In February 1937 Thomas Hart Benton was sent by the Kansas City Star to sketch the flood-devastated region of southeastern Missouri. The artist reported that “the roads of the flood country were full of movers . . . Every once in a while seepage from under the levee would force evacuation of a house and you would see a great struggle to get animals and goods out of the rising water.” Benton’s quick, vivid sketches later led to Spring on the Missouri. However, in translating the drawings into a painting, the artist reimagined the scene as epic theater, symbolic of mankind’s valiant and unrelenting struggle with the forces of nature.
The original owner of this painting was Arthur “Harpo” Marx.
Tags: lightning, American art, weather, document, midwest, narrative