Benton sketches go on sale

Example of Thomas Hart Benton's work. This work entitled Jealous Lover.

Example of Thomas Hart Benton's work. This work entitled Jealous Lover. Unknown

Preliminary sketches drawn by renowned Kansas City artist Thomas Hart Benton for a mural that hangs in the Smithsonian are going up for auction this weekend.

The dozen pencil sketches are outlines for Benton’s mural “Achelous and Hercules,” which used images from Greek mythology to depict Kansas City-area history. Benton eventually completed a 22-by-5 1 /4-foot mural, which was displayed at Harzfeld’s women’s store in downtown Kansas City from 1947 until 1984.

The sketches, which include drawings of a bull, human figures and early outlines of the entire mural, are to be sold Saturday at Dirk Soulis Auctions in Lone Jack. Initial asking prices range from $1,000 to $7,500, The Kansas City Star reported.

“This is certainly a significant new discovery to find a whole group like this,” said Henry Adams, a former curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and a Benton expert.

The sketches were found among the estate of Patricia George, an award-winning ad designer and fashion illustrator at Harzfeld’s, who died last December at age 84.

Lester Siegel Jr., whose father, Lester Sr., once owned Harzfeld’s, told the Star that his father commissioned the mural in 1946 for $12,500, and that Benton was a family friend.

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