Visiting the home of the Missouri artist.
We visited the Kansas City home of artist Thomas Hart Benton last weekend. We had a nice private tour of his art studio and home, which is a Missouri State Historic Site. The Parks Department is celebrating the anniversary of Thomas Hart Benton’s birth 125 years ago in Neosho, Missouri.
After studying in Paris and living on the East Coast, Benton and his wife, Rita, and two children returned in Missouri in 1935. They purchased a huge limestone home and several acres in Kansas City for a mere $6000. Benton converted the carriage house into a car garage and an art studio. He was a successful artist and Rita sold his paintings out of their home.
It was in the art studio in 1975 when Benton dropped dead from a massive heart attack. At his age of 85, he was still doing what he loved most, painting a large mural. Following his death and that of his wife, the Missouri State Parks purchased the home and studio and all the furnishings. So, when we toured, it was just as if they had left for the day. The house is a mixture of family, art and music. They lived fairly simple, with nice furnishings, but nothing grand, other than the piano.
The first artist to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, Benton was famous for his murals and oil paintings. He also did watercolors and sculptures. His favorite medium was egg tempera, a mixture of pigment, egg yolks and water, which he used to create his signature murals. Around his studio, you see dried tempera in jars, sculptures in clay, pencil drawings and empty frames. The art studio reflected the working artist, who took his designs from simple pencil drawings to grand sized murals.
In Missouri, you can see his murals at the City Hall of Joplin Missouri, at the Harry S. Truman Library, and the Missouri State Capitol Building. The home is located at 3616 Belleview Avenue, KCMO.
If we play the Six Degrees of Separation, the obvious connections are Missouri and oil paintings. But if we dig a little deeper, we find that his family traces their roots back to Lincolnshire in England and that’s where we buy most of our antiques for the store.