George Caleb Bingham
"Order No. 11", originally painted by George Caleb Bingham, depicts a scene of turmoil taking place during the Civil War. Tensions regarding abolition were high between Kansans and Missourians in the Western Missouri counties. Union General Thomas Ewing Jr. proposed General Order No. 11 to placate the unrest. The order sought to end the fighting by vacating the affected counties completely. Bingham, although pro-Union, was appalled by the prospect and threatened General Ewing with the words "If you execute this order, I shall make you infamous with pen and brush." And this he did.
This print is of the "Self-Portrait" by well-known Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham. As the artist looks directly at the viewer, he successfully creates the effect of employing the viewer as mirror (-art.nelsonatkins.org). An interesting play on reflection arises from this dynamic that critics often relate to Bingham's career as an artist. As one of the last self-portraits Bingham created before his death he was likely valuing the relationship between subject and artist as well as the opportunity to be both.
Depicted here are men of a rural town gathered around to hear a campaigning politicians speak. In this iteration of the work, the speaking politician's figure transcends the crowd, further sticking out amongst the working men with his white suit coat and hair. He is in the process of responding to an inquiry from a gentleman before him in the crowd leaning on a cane with tattered clothing. The painting was part of Bingham’s Election Series, which depicted the still-evolving democratic political cycle in the United States in the mid-19th century.
"The County Election" was an oil painting created by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham in 1852. This work depicts the civilian experience of democracy with a critique of the developing political system, a theme frequented by Bingham throughout his career. Accordingly, the civilians gathered in this work do so around the front steps of the courthouse from which the politician speaks, but is not seen. Meanwhile, a line forms to cast their ballot under a banner that reads "The Will of The People the Supreme Law".
George Caleb Bingham was a Missouri artist active throughout the 19th century and is known for his genre paintings which depicted life on the American frontier, and particularly along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. This painting was the first of three with the same name completed by Bingham, each with a similar composition and subject matter. Here, a group of men sits atop a flatboat, the central most figure dances and is flanked by two other figures playing instruments while the other men lounge and observe.