The present work is a finished study for an oil and tempera on canvas of the same title and date (private collection). The scene depicts two workers making syrup using a mill powered by a mule. Benton also produced a lithograph of the same subject, of which he comments, "These mule powered mills used to be common all over the Ozarks. Now gas engines have largely replaced the mules. I found this old mill in operation in Newton County, Arkansas, in 1968." (C. Faith, ed., The Lithographs of Thomas Hart Benton, Austin, Texas, 1979, p. 182)
This work will be included in the forthcoming Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Thomas Hart Benton Catalogue Raisonné Foundation. Committee Members: Dr. Henry Adams, Jessie Benton, Anthony Benton Gude & Michael Owen.