The Appraisal Grant Wood Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Grant Wood is one of America’s foremost Regionalist painters of the 1930s. His paintings featured archetypal rural subjects. One of his best paintings is The Appraisal. The Appraisal is a portrait painting made on canvas with oil. Grant Wood created The Appraisal in 1931.


Grant Wood creates generalized personas of the two characters using typical costumes, gestures, and attributes. He uses these elements to portray their personalities on a canvas. For instance, one of the ladies in the painting is dressed in an expensive fur coat with a large collar. She also holds a seemingly expensive black and gold purse under her arm. Her head is covered with a black mushroom hat with a silver pin at the front, and she has silver stud earrings on. This is the typical look of rick farm folk.

The second lady is the opposite of the first. She is wearing a simple woven red and cream hat and a green coat with bluish hems. The lady is holding a chicken with both hands and looking directly at the other character. Her entire look is the typical representation of humble or worker farm folk. The second lady is presented as a sympathetic character. Most critics assume that the chicken in the second woman’s hand is the subject of the appraisal. On the other hand, the first lady with fancy clothing and appearance is the appraiser. The painting represents the changing economics of farming from the depression era.

Behind the two characters is a modest wooden home painted white with a green wooden-framed door and a wooden front porch. In front of the porch are a tidy green landscape and a few grass spikes. The house is positioned directly behind the second lady. The other half features a barn with a small gothic window at the top. There is a third smaller structure that the first lady obscures. The carpenter gothic style of the house and the barn is common in most of Wood’s paintings. This was a popular style of the period.

Similar works

Like The Appraisal, Grant Wood composed several other paintings embodying the values of hard work, community, and the primitive and beautiful rural environment. The painting’s realism and unique perspective draw viewers into an unexpected worldview. Some similar paintings are American Gothic and Parson Weem’s Fable. However, unlike other Grant Wood compositions, the painting features brighter colours and a less dull demeanour. Like most paintings, The Appraisal was inspired by Grant Wood’s life on the farm. Unfortunately, the current whereabouts of the painting, like most Grant Wood compositions, are unknown.