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Shooting for the Beef

George Caleb Bingham

American Art

On View:
The glum-looking steer at far left watches as men compete in a shooting contest—a typical western pastime—to win him as a prize. The target is a nail on the board leaning against the dead tree. A sign above reads “To Boonsborough 14 miles.” This town, named for the renowned pioneer Daniel Boone, was in central Missouri’s Boone County.

The lively narrative of rough but amiable frontier types and the far-ranging view of the landscape create a vivid representation of Manifest Destiny. During this era, many Americans believed in divine approval of westward expansion and limitless opportunity for those with a pioneering, competitive spirit.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1850
DIMENSIONS 33 3/8 × 49 in. (84.8 × 124.5 cm) frame: 45 1/2 × 61 × 5 in. (115.6 × 154.9 × 12.7 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "G.C. Bingham / 1850."
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811–1879). Shooting for the Beef, 1850. Oil on canvas, 33 3/8 × 49 in. (84.8 × 124.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 40.342 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 40.342_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 40.342_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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