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In 1941 George Washington Hill, president of American Tobacco Company, enlisted Reeves Lewenthal, director of the gallery Associated American Artists, to select preeminent American Scene artists to create paintings depicting the entire tobacco production, from planting and harvesting to curing and auction. Thomas Hart Benton, Ernest Fiene and Georges Schreiber were the first artists to receive the commission. In early 1941 they were sent to southern Georgia to sketch tobacco farmers at work. Benton and Fiene went on to paint tobacco farms in the Carolinas as well. The other artists who painted tobacco farms across the South over the next two years included: Arnold Blanch, Aaron Bohrod, Clarence Carter, James Chapin, John Steuart Curry, Joseph Hirsch, Irwin Hoffman, Peter Hurd, Joe Jones, Doris Lee, David Stone Martin, Fletcher Martin, Robert Philipp, Paul Sample, Lawrence Beall Smith and Frederic Taubes. Many of their paintings arrived at American Tobacco Company by 1942 and were displayed in the company's headquarters. The paintings were also used in advertisements for Lucky Strike cigarettes with the slogan "Paintings of tobacco country by America's foremost artists."

The tobacco paintings appeared in Lucky Strike ads in Life and Time magazines, as well as other publications, as early as February 1942. In 1942 and 1943 the commissioned works were featured in Lucky Strike ads that stated famous artists were painting from life in Tobacco Country: Northern Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. From 1944 to 1947 the Lucky Strike ads continued to use the commissioned paintings but more emphasis was placed on the brand's logo and the artists often went unnamed.

These tobacco paintings by nineteen American Scene painters are important because they capture the farming of an historic American crop at the moment production was undergoing a major expansion. At the time of the commission there were as many as 1,602,000 tobacco farmers in the United States.



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