Collectors devour pencil-signed Thomas Hart Benton lithographs whenever they hit the market, and for good reason. Complementing the ongoing popularity of these prints is the attention paid to him by scholars.
Benton’s oeuvre is extensive, and most of his mass-produced lithographs are covered by Creekmore Fath’s salutary work, The Lithographs of Thomas Hart Benton, published by the University of Texas Press. The scope of the work is impressive, to say the least, being all the lithographs done as individual works of art.
The work I’d like to examine today, though, is an elusive creature, omitted by Fath and other Benton sources and lists, but one that has turned up in the market a couple of times over the last fifteen-odd years, and is surely rising in value to catch up to its listed compatriots.
Auctioneers that have offered it to the public since 2000 have assigned their own name for it. I, however, believe it is ‘Shivaree, Laurie and Curley,’ as listed in Lawrence’s Print Prices (1997, Gordon’s Art Reference, Inc.), and dated to 1954 – which tallies with date visible in the lower left of the plate after Benton’s signature.
Benton often only signed his last name to the pencil-signed lithos, but two of three examples I’ve seen over the last 15 years have seen him sign his entire name, Thomas Hart Benton. One of these also included a personal dedication. The third example was not pencil signed.
If any Benton collectors or scholars have additional information about this particular print, I’d love to hear from you!