Persephone (painting)

Persephone is a 1939 painting by the American painter Thomas Hart Benton. It depicts the Greek goddess Persephone, resting nude by a tree in a rural Midwestern setting. Benton, dressed in farmer's clothes, plays the role of Pluto and peeks from behind the tree. It was painted at the Kansas City Art Institute where Benton worked as a teacher. Several of Benton's students also made their own versions of the subject. A reporter from Life visited Benton in his studio during his work on this painting and his other famous nude painting from the same period, Susanna and the Elders.The model for Persephone was Imogene Bruton. Bruton modeled for students at the school in the 1930s but abandoned modeling after completing Persephone. She married in 1940, and was later unwilling to talk about her time as a model.The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City bought the painting in 1986. The museum paid $2,500,000, which was a new record for a Benton painting.The painting inspired Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite, a 1974 photograph by Judy Dater.


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