A close up of fall foliage on the forest floor, with a bronze penny sitting on a rock.

Thomas Hart Benton

American, 1889-1975

Lost Penny, 1939

Oil and tempera on board

26 1/2 x 19 inches

Signed and dated lower left

Thomas Hart Benton is best known for his murals and depictions of the American landscape and its laborers. Around 1939, Benton also painted beautiful still lifes of flowers, fruit, and vignettes from nature. He exhibited much of his recent work, including Lost Penny, in a 1939 retrospective exhibition that first opened at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and then at the Associated American Artists gallery in New York. The exhibition drew positive critical reception, with specific praise on his mastery of texture, which can be seen in the flora and fauna of the present work. In this painting, expertly rendered stalks of ferns, fallen leaves, and dried weeds are staged against a backdrop of rocks and a tree. The golden hues of the leaves are echoed in the copper penny, hidden beneath a large rock.

A close up of fall foliage on the forest floor, with a bronze penny sitting on a rock.