Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975), son of a Missouri Congressman, studied at the Académie Julian in Paris before returning to New York to teach at the Art Students League, where Jackson Pollock was among his pupils. He hankered after rural America, and this image came from an 8,000-mile trip he undertook across the Continent. He became Head of Painting at Kansas City Art Institute for a while, and then devoted himself to producing lithographs with the printer George Miller. He produced the six illustrations in 1939 for John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. He donated forty-five of his works to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which has the largest holding of his works.