Thomas Hart Benton Historic Home
Visit the estate and art studio site of Thomas Hart Benton, Missouri’s most famed artist of the 20th century. Known for creating realistic American scenery, showcasing “culture on canvas” led to Benton’s work being featured at the Missouri State Capitol. Born in Neosho in 1889 to a Congressman and a descendent of the state’s first senator, Benton studied art at Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC and the Art Institute of Chicago, followed by several sessions in Paris.
Serving as a draftsman in World War I, Benton credits that experience for approaching realistic drawing. Showing content that mattered in terms that was recognizable was his goal, and Benton dedicated his life to showcasing American ways and history. Leader of the Regionalist painting movement of the 1930s, he taught students including Jackson Pollock in New York.
A Peek Inside Benton’s Life
Benton created new methods of painting prep, including the use of clay models to guide spatial relationships. He returned home to Missouri in 1935 where he won a commission to paint the mural in the capitol, right on the heels of painting four big murals in New York which gave him national fame. The Missouri State Capitol mural, A Social History of the State of Missouri, features controversial scenes including fur traders dealing whiskey to Native Americans and Jesse James mid-robbery.
During your tour of his home, you’ll see a baby grand piano, two pieces of art showing his children playing instruments, his art books and more. It’s a hub of local cultural and creative activity with half the home an art studio with custom windows for natural light. Part of the Missouri State Parks, you can check their website for reservation details.