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Pioneer Group at the Red Rock Line--1845 (mural study, Knoxville, Iowa Post Office)

1940 Marvin Beerbohm Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1908 Died: North Olmstead, Ohio 1981 oil on fiberboard 17 x 32 1/2 in. (43.2 x 82.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the Internal Revenue Service through the General Services Administration 1962.8.48 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 36A

Luce Center Label

The Works Progress Administration invited Marvin Beerbohm to submit a sketch for the Knoxville, Iowa, post office mural. He discussed the commission with the town’s citizens and chose an episode from the community’s early history. On the night of October 10, 1845, the federal government forced the Sac and Fox Indians from their land east of the Red Rock Line. White settlers waited on the border and, at the signal, rushed forward to claim property. Beerbohm took note of the doorway that would intrude into the lower part of his mural, and composed his figures in a semicircle above. He captured the intensity of the event with a chaotic scene of settlers bearing lanterns, torches, and stakes beneath a swirling nighttime sky. After he had installed the mural, a local paper praised him for capturing the “Shouts of excited drivers mingled with the yells of men on horseback carrying torches, flaring in the wind” and “Small children, clinging to their mothers . . . in terror.” (Untitled newspaper clipping, SAAM curatorial file)


Figure group

History - United States - westward expansion

Landscape - Iowa - Knoxville

Study - mural study

Travel - land

New Deal - Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture - Iowa


paint - oil


About Marvin Beerbohm

Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1908 Died: North Olmstead, Ohio 1981

More works in the collection by
Marvin Beerbohm