The Virginia-born artist George Caleb Bingham painted this scene from frontier Missouri in 1845. Bingham's family moved from a farm in Augusta County to Missouri in 1819. Known as "the Missouri artist," Bingham also served in the Missouri House of Representatives, where he opposed the spread of slavery before the Civil War. During the war, he fought for the Union.
This painting was originally titled French Trader & Half breed Son, but the name was changed by the American Art-Union in New York to Fur Traders Descending the Missouri. The painting is in the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the museum's catalogue describes the painting as "a masterpiece of genre painting …. The solemn, motionless scene immortalizes the vanished world of the American frontier, constructed for a northeastern audience."