Missouri’s River Painter

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Westward Expansion, Occupations, Communities, Your State

Language Arts – Writing (Letter Writing, Poetry), Walt Whitman

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – George Caleb Bingham

Genre Paintings, Moving People


“Fur Traders Descending the Missouri”

Presently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is the exhibit, Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River.  Like Thomas Moran, Bingham painted frontier life west of the Mississippi River. Instead of merely painting the landscape, Bingham painted frontier people, specifically its workers, on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Paintings portraying everyday life are known as Genre paintings. For a short and sweet explanation about Bingham, read the Introduction and Frontier Life sections of this post.

Find a description of Bingham’s exhibit here.

There are exhibition objects here.


“The Jolly Flatboatmen”

Look here to find a lesson plan about Bingham’s flat boatmen painting with an introduction to Walt Whitman.

There is a delightful song depicting the artist’s life here.

Find Bingham’s life and work from a dog’s point of view here.

You can plug Bingham’s river paintings into this genre painting lesson plan.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, for a good moving people source look here.

I’ve provided lots of choices. Hope you find some gem to enhance one or more lessons!


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