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If Elected I Will Serve

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The County Election (after George Caleb Bingham)

25 5/8 x 32 3/16 in. (65.1 x 81.8 cm)

George Caleb Bingham
United States (Augusta County, VA, 1811 - 1879, Kansas City, MO) Original artist
John Sartain
United States (London, England, 1808 - 1897, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Engraver

Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Hand-colored line, stipple and mezzotint engraving
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1991.73
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

This scene is a commentary on American elections as well as on a specific Election Day in 1850. On that day, in Saline County, Missouri, the artist George Caleb Bingham ran for a place in the State Legislature. E. D. Sappington, the candidate lifting his shiny top hat, was the winner. Sappington, with his workers, tried to buy votes with liquor, and because he was related to the judge and one of the clerks, the election’s outcome aroused suspicion. While Bingham did not contest the results, The County Election makes a powerful statement about his thoughts concerning the corrupt proceedings. The artist represents himself as the figure in the stovepipe hat seated on the courthouse steps, attended by a friendly dog and two men in white hats who pause to look over his shoulder.

John Sartain was a highly successful engraver and publisher. He is well-known for his mezzotints of paintings by some of America’s major artists, including Emanuel Leutze and Thomas Sully. His descendants continued to make important contributions to the world of 19th century American art.

[Gallery label text, October 2010]

See general reference to this print and the original painting in George R. Brooks' "George Caleb Bingham and 'The County Election'," in The Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society, vol. XXI, no. 1, October 1964: pp. 36-43

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
The County Election Describes the political and historical context of this painting and compares it with other works in the Gallery's collection.
George Caleb Bingham: The Making of The County Election Saint Louis Art Museum website about the original painting from which MAG's print derives.
George Caleb Bingham: The County Election Printable poster from the Saint Louis Art Museum, of the original Bingham painting from which MAG's print derives.

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