The County Election (after George Caleb Bingham)
25 5/8 x 32 3/16 in. (65.1 x 81.8 cm)
George Caleb Bingham
(Augusta County, VA, 1811 - 1879, Kansas City, MO)
(London, England, 1808 - 1897, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Medium and Support:
Hand-colored line, stipple and mezzotint engraving
Marion Stratton Gould Fund
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]