Fishing on the Mississippi (1851)
George Caleb Bingham
Oil on canvas
"Missouri native George Caleb Bingham earned a national reputation by depicting scenes of western politics and river life. In almost 50 canvases painted from 1840 to 1855, the artist strove to create an image of the West for his own day and posterity. Bingham painted Fishing on the Mississippi during a brief residence in New York in 1851. Three fishermen, whom Bingham based on earlier drawings, are pictured waiting to provide steamboats with wood for fuel. The warm palette, balanced composition and the figures' downturned gazes create a meditative, even melancholic mood, which reflects Bingham's own mixed feelings about the changing ways of frontier life. By 1850 steamboats were quickly displacing flatboats as the primary mode of river transportation."