Shooting for the Beef
George Caleb Bingham
On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890, 5th Floor
In Shooting for the Beef, a group of men and dogs is assembled in front of a rough, wooden “Post-Office-Grocery” for a shooting contest—a typical western pastime. The prize is the steer at the far left. Their target is a nail on the board leaning against the dead tree at the right, below a sign that 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 frontier landscape combine to make the painting a vivid representation of the era of Manifest Destiny, when Americans believed in divine approval of the progressive domestication of America and in limitless opportunity for those possessed of the pioneering, competitive spirit.
Oil on canvas
33 3/8 x 49 in. (84.8 x 124.5 cm)
frame: 46 7/8 x 62 1/2 in. (119.1 x 158.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower left: "G.C. Bingham / 1850."
Dick S. Ramsay Fund
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George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811-1879). Shooting for the Beef, 1850. Oil on canvas, 33 3/8 x 49 in. (84.8 x 124.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 40.342
x-ray, detail, CONS.40.342_1989_xrs_detail1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1989
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