ca. 1927-28
oil and egg tempera on canvas mounted on composite board
United States
Unframed: 60 3/16 × 42 1/8 in. (152.88 × 107 cm)
Framed: 9 1/4 × 50 7/8 in. (23.5 × 129.22 cm)
Long after the establishment of the United States, many Americans—including Benton—remained fascinated with the nation’s colonial beginnings. Brideship is part of the American Historical Epic—the artist’s first mural cycle, conceived in 1922 to “present a people’s history.”The painting depicts an episode from the early 1620s when the Virginia Company shipped 147 “younge, handsome, and honestly educated Maides” from England to Jamestown to serve as brides for the lonely settlers. Newly arrived, a red-haired maiden steps out on the bustling wharf and looks at a small coin in her hand. The game of chance that brought her to the New World—a metaphorical flip of the coin—appears to have cast her lot with the man at bottom left, who beckons to her with talon-like fingers. The model for the “bride” was the Benton’s own wife, Rita, who contributed to the family income by making hats. Adding a humorous touch, the colonial maiden wears a fashionable chapeau of the 1920s.
two labels adhered to fome-cor backing: (1) "Nelson Atkins Museum of Art for ehxhibition entitled 'Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original,' 4/16/89 - 6/18/89; (2) "Martha Parrish and James Reinish 25 East 73 St. New York, NY"
Gift of R. Crosby Kemper and museum purchase, the J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art
Tales from the Easel: Narrative Paintings from Southern Museums, The Colombus Museum, Columbus, GA, Feb 8 - April 11 2004; Tampa Museum of Art, FL, April 25 - July 11 2004; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY, Sept 14 - Dec 12 2004; El Paso Museum of Art, TX, Jan 16 - April 10 2005

Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, 1/17 - 3/31/2002; Musee des Bueax-Arts, Montipellier, 4/10 - 6/25/2002

"Made in U.S.A.: l'Art Américain, 1908-1947, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, Oct. 5 - Dec. 31, 2001; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, Jan. 17 - March 31, 2002; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montpellier, April 10 - June 25, 2002

"Thomas Hart Benton: an American Original," Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts; Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989-1990
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 118, p. 350-352).

"An Enduring Legacy: Paintings Acquired through the J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art," AAM's Museum magazine, Vol. 85, No. 1, color ill. p. 16.

Roy Proctor, "About Thomas Hart Benton and his magnificent murals," Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, December 27, 1998, p. G-5, b&w ill.

Wilma J. Burke, "Appraisers Corner: Paintings Created Scene During Great Depression," Richmond Times-Dispatch April 8, 2006, p. F2, color ill. p. F1.

Didactic panel for A Narrative of American Art exhibition at Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, 2004.

Charles Eldredge et al, Tales from the Easel American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums exhibition catalogue (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004) p. 81, color ill. no. 5.

Linda L. Sturz, Within Her Power Propertied Women in Colonial Virginia (New York: Routledge, 2002) ills. cover, pp. 19, 43, 71, 89, 111, 141.

Jacinto Lageira, "La Modernité Made in USA," L'oeil, November 2001, No. 531, p. 40, color ill.

Stéphan Grégan, "Made in USA Naissance d'une Nation," Beaux-Arts, February 2002, page unknown, ill.

La Griffe January 30-February 12, 2002, No. 118, page unknown, ill.

Made in USA L’art Américain, 1908-1947 exhibition catalogue (Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001) color ill. p. 176.

R. Crosby Kemper, Jr., Fifty Years of Collecting Banking on Art (Kansas City, MO: R. Crosby Kemper, Jr., UMB Bank, 2000) color ill. p. 38.

Henry Adams, Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1989, illus. in color, p. 131

Matthew Baigell, Thomas Hart Benton, New York, Abrams, 1975, pp. 41-56
©artist or artist’s estate

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