Daughters of Revolution - Grant Wood, 1932

From the Boston Phoenix:

Three ladies can be seen framing a reproduction of Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, and a more unrevolutionary-looking lot you couldn’t imagine: tight-mouthed, thin-lipped, with dull, vacant eyes and not a hint of intelligence. They’re wearing granny dresses, and the one in the middle is holding a Blue Willow teacup in an affected manner, her ring finger conspicuously bare. Behind them Washington looms majestically, heroically; God help us, you think, if these really are the daughters of revolution.

There’s a story behind this painting. Five years earlier, in 1927, Wood had been commissioned by the city of Cedar Rapids to create a stained-glass window for the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Unhappy with the quality of American-made glass, he went to Munich in 1928, where he found his needs met by the Emil Frei Company. The window was finished in 1920, but it was not dedicated till 1955, because the Daughters of the American Revolution contended that a German company should not have been allowed to fabricate a World War I memorial.

Daughters of Revolution is Wood’s satiric response. (It can’t have been lost on him that Leutze was born in Germany and painted his Washington in Düsseldorf.) And yet — with Grant Wood there’s always an “and yet” — the ladies depicted with merciless realism, while behind them Washington and his troops parade in all their mythologized majesty. Insular and narrow-minded, these nevertheless are the daughters of the American Revolution.

 

Posted on June 6 2011, with 32 Notes

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    This is one of my all-time favorite paintings. Its sarcastic wit is what led me to write my thesis on Grant Wood. It...
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