George Caleb Bingham (1811 - 1879)
George Caleb Bingham was a Missouri artist and politician. During his lifetime, he was known as “the Missouri Artist.” Painting his most significant pieces between 1845 and 1860, Bingham produced many remarkable drawings, portraits, landscapes, and scenes of social and political life on the frontier. He was also active in civic affairs and contributed to the political life of Missouri before and after the Civil War.
George Caleb Bingham was born on March 20, 1811, in Augusta County, Virginia. He was the second of seven children born to Henry Vest and Mary Amend Bingham. Living on a large farm, George showed a strong interest in drawing at an early age. He supposedly drew on the sides of barns, fence posts, and the walls of the family mill. When George was seven, his father lost most of the family’s property to cover a friend’s debts. Homeless, George left Virginia with his parents, five siblings, his grandfather Matthias Amend, and their slaves. They headed to Missouri to build a new life.