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The Jolly Flatboatmen
George Caleb Bingham was a Missouri artist active throughout the 19th century and is known for his genre paintings which depicted life on the American frontier, and particularly along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. This painting was the first of three with the same name completed by Bingham, each with a similar composition and subject matter. Here, a group of men sits atop a flatboat, the central most figure dances and is flanked by two other figures playing instruments while the other men lounge and observe. A number of objects are strewn across the front of the boat including a drying shirt, coonskin, and coiled rope along with other equipment tucked into the undercarriage of the boat. The scene is calm and jovial, completing a still life of the more casual, real-life moments of early river journeys.