George Caleb Bingham. “The County Election.” New York: G.C. Bingham, 1854. Engraving and mezzotint by John Sartain. Printed by Goupil & Co. 26 x 32 1/2 (sight). Superb original hand color. Chine applique. Some light waterstains in margins; professionally conserved. Else, very good condition. Framed to museum standards.
George Caleb Bingham is one of the greatest American genre painters of the middle of the nineteenth century. In his large canvases he showed daily life from American heartland. A number of these were made into prints, of which this is one of the most desirable and rare. The scene shown is a ‘county election’ being held at Arrow Rock, Missouri about 1847. The theme of the print is the various activities surrounding a county election, especially the corruption, a favorite Bingham subject, as evidenced by the use of free drinks to buy votes. Arrow Rock was Bingham’s home town, and the town landscape and most of the figures are accurate portraits. Included are many of the prominent persons of Arrow Rock, as well as Bingham’s own son, Horace, seen playing mumble-the-peg, and the O’Sullivan’s dog “Scamp.” Bingham would always make numerous sketches of his subject before composing his picture, and in fact can be seen here sitting on the court house steps engaged in this activity.