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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

THOMAS HART BENTON


Born in Neosho, Missouri, in 1889, Thomas Hart Benton began his art education at age sixteen in the Art Institute of Chicago and at age nineteen studied in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Returning to America to become a "child controversy," Benton enjoyed one of the most dramatic and interesting careers in American art.

Deeply moved by the attack on Pearl Harbor, shortly thereafter he completed "The Year of Peril," a series of grim and powerful war paintings financed by Abbott Laboratories. In 1943 he collaborated with Georges Schreiber in producing the Abbott Collection of Submarine Paintings, a project largely executed aboard the American submarine Dorado, which was later lost in action with all hands.

His awards included the Jennie Sesnan Medal of the New York Architectural League and Wanamaker's Purchase Prize. Benton is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, City Art Museum of St. Louis, Museum of Modern Art, California Palace of the Legion of Honor and others. His murals are in the Missouri State Capitol, Indiana University, Whitney Museum of American Art and the New School for Social Research.

This exhibit contains all 25 of the works by Thomas Hart Benton in the Navy Art Collection

Note: Score Another for the Subs is not part of the Traveling Exhibit



Cut the Line
Thomas Hart Benton #23
Oil on board, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BO

Last episode in the birth of an LST--the launching. While the audience leans forward with the breathless expectation of racetrack fans lining the rail to shout "They're Off!" the foreman of the crew holds his hat high. Seconds later the hat came down, the crowd roared, the lines were cut and a new ship had joined Uncle Sam's landing craft armada.

 

She's Off
Thomas Hart Benton #1
Watercolor on paper, 1944
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-AS

The lines cut, the LST (Loading Ship, Tank) slides into the water--a new member of the vast landing craft program. These ships, built in Pittsburgh on the banks of the Ohio River, are launched sideways instead of in the conventional method, stern first.

 

Loading the LST
Thomas Hart Benton #9
 
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BA


Crewmen of the landing ship load stores aboard their vessel for the next leg of their long trip to the fighting front.

 

Look Out Below
Thomas Hart Benton
 #16
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BH

 


Cargo of all sizes and shapes is lowered through a hatch to be stored below on the LST, preparatory to sailing.

 

This Way In
Thomas Hart Benton
 #5
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-AW


Taking part in maneuvers for the grim tasks ahead on some enemy-held shore, the newly built LST heads for the local beach. With her bow doors yawning and the ramp lowering, the tanks inside are snorting and smoking. They await the signal to roll out.

 

Salt and Steel
Thomas Hart Benton #13
Pen and ink on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BE

 
While their ship pitches and rolls in its first taste of salt water, the gunners aboard an LST sharpen up their eyes with target practice.

 

Preliminary Shake Down, New Orleans
Thomas Hart Benton
 #7
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-AY


Men while away their off duty hours in a New Orleans night club before the LST weighs anchor for foreign ports.

 

All Work
Thomas Hart Benton #10
 
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BB


Crew members of an LST docked at New Orleans, make a personal inspection of the faded delights of the old Gulf port.

 

Down the Lower Mississippi
Thomas Hart Benton
 #15
Pen and ink wash on paper, circa 1943
Gift of Abbott Laboratories
88-159-BG


Men aboard a Navy LST watch as an old side wheeler tows flatbarges up the Mississippi during the LST's voyage down to New Orleans from the shipyard.

page 1 of 4

 

Online Exhibits that feature Thomas Hart Benton's Work

Amphibious Operations in the Pacific Theater
The Silent Service: From the Abbott Laboratories Collection

 

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1 April 2001