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
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.
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
overall, 40.342_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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