Arnold Comes of Age Grant Wood Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Arnold comes of age is an oil painting by the famous American artist Grant Wood who created this masterpiece as a birthday gift to his twenty-one-year old protégé Arnold Pyle.

Arnold was working under him in his gallery as he helped him in creating different artworks. Grant Wood however grew affectionate towards him but unfortunately Arnold could not reciprocate his feelings. Below are some of the main contents of this beautiful masterpiece by Grant Wood. Read on to find out more.

Its Contents

Grant Wood, a regionalist painter develops strong feelings for his protégé Arnold Pyle and during his twenty first birthday, he gifts him an extra ordinary gift of a painting. The painting is of a man who is looking ahead where supposedly there is a rural landscape. Behind him, there are two naked men taking a bath by the river. However, the man in the painting appears to look awkward in a village setting as a beautiful butterfly lands on his shirt. Originally, the painting was called Portrait of Arnold and it is cast on pressed board.

What is the Theme of the Artwork and its date, medium and current location?

Most of Wood’s artworks were inspired by the Italian Renaissance and Arnold comes of age is among them. This particular painting portrays Wood as homoerotic as he places many symbols of it there. The beautiful butterfly that is seen to be landing on Arnold’s shoulder is depicted as a gay symbol( at that time). In as much as Wood tried all he could to try and woo Arnold, he could not feel the same way about him as he was heterosexual. This was quite strange as Wood had done the same to his former assistants. Therefore, Wood had to term his affection and action as paternal love.

The painting vaguely exposes Wood’s homoerotic desires that he has towards Arnold. He goes ahead and gives him hints by filling the painting with gay symbols hoping that Arnold will at least feel the same towards him. Wood is still stuck on the rigid Italian Renaissance that in a moment, one may stop to think if he is aware of his own desires. The village riverside background, two naked men bathing by the river plus the butterfly fluttering on Arnold’s arm; all these are clear indications of the man’s feeling towards his assistant. The painting is old enough as Grant Wood created it in 1930. Over the years, it has become worn out and they no longer showcase it in art galleries and museums due to the severe deterioration and the great details of it disappearing due to aging. The current location of the painting is in Sheldon Museum of Art.