Huck Finn Art

Huck Finn, 1936
by Thomas Hart Benton, American (1889-1975)
lithograph on paper – 16 5/8 x 21 5/8 inches

from the Figge Art Museum site:  http://www.figgeartmuseum.org/SiteDefault.aspx?nt=16&PageID=102

Mark Twain’s classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, tells the story of a young boy named Huckleberry Finn who runs away from his abusive father to Jackson’s Island. There, he encounters an escaped slave named Jim.  The two sail on a raft down the Mississippi River so Jim can be granted freedom.  To avoid recognition, Huck and Jim travel at night.  Along the way Huck and Jim meet some unsavory characters, but the story ends happily with Jim being set free.  Benton reread the novel every couple of years. 

In his autobiography, Benton acknowledged a river’s appeal:  “….The thought of floating effortlessly away on running water has an irresistible charm whether or no there is any real purpose or sense set to it.  In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain has caught the spirit of this, and back of the adventures of Huck and Jim and those with whom they meet there is always the moving river and the promises and hopes that lie around its unfolding bends” (Benton, 144).

Benton’s Mississippi River is illuminated by moonlight.  Notice how the moonlit river contrasts with the dark steam and trees in the background. Notice, too, the drawn lines that suggest the Mississippi River’s current.  Huck Finn is a lithograph, a type of print.  The image was drawn on a lithographic stone and then printed on paper.  The moonlit areas of the river that appear white in the image are actually the color of the paper.  In the foreground of the image, a turtle on a log floats by Huck and Jim. 

Huck Finn is based on one of Benton’s paintings from the mural The Social History of Missouri, which is on display in the House Lounge of the Missouri State Capital Building, in Jefferson City.  Benton chose three subjects from Missouri folklore to represent “Missouri Mythology”:  Huck and Jim, Jesse James, and (the ballad of) Frankie and Johnnie.  Benton filled the remaining sections of the walls of the mural cycle with images of trappers, fur traders, slaves, politicians, and others who shaped Missouri’s history.

I chose this entry because I love art and find this artist’s impressions interesting.

Scott Tucker

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~ by seventhperiod on September 5, 2007.

5 Responses to “Huck Finn Art”

  1. Thats really awesome scott good job!!

    -Patrick

  2. Loving the beautiful black and white colors.

    Aaron

  3. heres another pic i found of huck….this is basically exactly what i pictured him lookind like….with game in one hand and a gun in the other – brad

  4. wow scott that was a good find. i love the art and you cann tell in the picture that huck is jim’s best friend. the perspective is great. riley

  5. Ok wow scott this is amazing um, if only i could have found that first.
    danielle

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