Throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, Benton, who left New York in 1935 and settled in Kansas City, Missouri, became closely associated with a movement known as Regionalism, which exalted rural America and tended to disregard contemporary abstract art. Showing two harvesters using old-fashioned scythes to harvest a bumper crop, the painting exhibits the swirling integration of the figure and environment for which the artist is best-known. Benton’s harvesting subject and intense attention to detail recall works by the 16th-century Flemish painter Jan Brueghel, even as it resonated with the sentiment popular throughout World War II (U.S. involvement from 1941 to 1945) that the nation’s farmers were warriors on the home front.
Berlin. Deutsches Historisches Museum. "Kunst und Propaganda: Im Streit der Nationen 1930–1945," January 26–April 29, 2007, no. US/20.
Des Moines Art Center. "After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism and the Midwest," January 30–May 17, 2009, unnumbered cat. (pl. 13).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Thomas Hart Benton’s 'America Today' Mural Rediscovered," September 30, 2014–April 19, 2015, no catalogue (see MMA Bulletin 72, Winter 2015).
Lloyd Goodrich inNew Art in America: Fifty Painters of the 20th Century. Ed. John I. H. Baur. Greenwich, Conn., 1957, ill. p. 133 (color).
Henry Geldzahler. American Painting in the Twentieth Century. New York, 1965, p. 93, ill.
James F. Pilgrim. Paintings from the Metropolitan, Pinturas del Metropolitano. Exh. cat., Bronx County Courthouse. New York, 1971, unpaginated, no. 12.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 1983, p. 419, no. 20, ill. (color).
Lowery Stokes Sims. The Figure in 20th Century American Art: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Jacksonville Art Museum. New York, 1984, pp. 10, 92, 104–5, ill.
William S. Lieberman. 20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 1, Painting: 1905–1945. New York, 1986, pp. 56–57, 63, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Elizabeth Broun. "Thomas Hart Benton: A Politician in Art." Smithsonian Studies in American Art 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 70, 73, fig. 7 (image reversed).
Henry Adams. Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original. Exh. cat., Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. New York, 1989, pp. 316, 355, ill. p. 318 (color).
Debra Bricker Balken. After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism, and the Midwest. Exh. cat., Des Moines Art Center. Des Moines, 2009, p. 104, colorpl. 13.