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Image of Departure of the Joads

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Departure of the Joads

Thomas Hart Benton, American, (April 15, 1889–January 19, 1975)

Creation date: 1939
Creation place: United States

Other Information

Type: Lithograph
Medium and Support: Lithograph
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie L. Johnson
Accession Number: 1976.34
Dimensions: 12 7/8 in. x 18 1/2 in. (32.7 cm x 46.99 cm)


Mr. and Mrs. Leslie L. Johnson, Laguna Hills, California ( - 1976)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (1976 - )

Label Copy

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by 20th century American author John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, was written in 1939, and describes the plight of migrant farm workers in Central California during the Great Depression. This work of art was created by American painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton, an artist well known for his affinity for portraying the lives of ordinary people.

Benton presents the opening scene of the story, in which the Joad family is preparing to leave the dustbowls of Oklahoma for the promise of work and a better life in California. This image served as the cover for a 1940 version published by Limited Editions Club. It was also commissioned for use in a series of posters used to advertise the release of the film, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda and produced by Twentieth Century Fox in 1940.

Las uvas de la ira, la novela por el escritor estadounidense John Steinbeck y galardonada con el Premio Pulitzer, fue escrita en 1939 y describe las dificultades de los campesinos migrantes en California central durante la Gran Depresión. Esta litografía fue realizada por el pintor y muralista Thomas Hart Benton, conocido por sus representaciones de las vidas de personas ordinarias.

Benton presenta la escena inicial de la historia cuando la familia Joad se prepara a abandonar las tierras erosionadas de Oklahoma en busca de trabajo y una mejor vida en California. Esta imagen fue la portada de la edición de 1940 publicada por Limited Editions Club. Había sido encargada para una serie de carteles anunciando la película Las uvas de la ira protagonizada por Henry Fonda y producida por Twentieth Century Fox en 1940.

October 18, 2014
Anita Feldman, Deputy Director Collections & Exhibitions
Thomas Hart Benton
American • 1889–1975
Departure of the Joads
Lithograph • 1939
The phenomenal success of John Steinbeck’s controver- sial 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath prompted the Limited Editions Club to commission Regionalist painter Thomas Benton to illustrate a new edition of the book published the following year. Benton’s Marxist sympathies and devotion to genuinely American subjects, heightened by his own experi- ence of the Great Depression, made him ideally suited for the task. After abandoning the often hostile environment of New York in 1935 to return to his Midwestern roots, Benton was teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute when he crafted his iconic images of the Joads and other characters who inhabit Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning tale. Benton taught at the Art Students League of New York from 1926–35, where his most famous student was Jackson Pollock, who later led the Abstract Expressionist movement.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie L. Johnson
Last Updated: 10/20/2014


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Graphics from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie L. Johnson San Diego Museum of Art , 1/22/1972 - 3/5/1972

Paintings, Sculpture and Works on Paper, Selected from the Collection of Laguna Beach Museum of Art , 1/5/1974 - 2/3/1974

The Art of the Print San Diego Museum of Art , 10/26/1991 - 1/5/1992

American Visions: Place and Identity The San Diego Museum of Art , 10/18/2014 - 3/17/2015

Modern American Prints, 1920-1948 San Diego Museum of Art , 8/11/2018 - 2/3/2019


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Graphics from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie L. Johnson San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 1972
Page Number: cat. no. 2

Paintings, Sculpture and Works on Paper, Laguna Beach Museum of Art. Laguna Beach, California, 1974
Page Number: 11 no. 5


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Signature, Lower right:

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