The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover 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 the greatest artists of his time. He has created some of the most impressive pieces celebrated up to date. One of his greatest pieces is The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover.

This painting was created in 1931 using oil and board as the primary media. It is created in the Regionalism style, featuring the landscape genre.

How the Painting Came to be

A group of entrepreneurs and businessmen from Iowa commissioned this painting from Grant Wood. They intended to present it to the sitting president, Herbert Hoover. The president was born in a white frame cabin in West Branch, Iowa. Grant Wood made a point of representing the birthplace as accurately as possible. However, President Herbert Hoover did not think he did it justice. He refused to accept the painting because it included a larger house obscured the small cabin where he was born. In other words, the cabin was not the focus of the painting and did not stand out. During his campaigns, he had emphasized his humble origins, and according to him, the piece did not paint an accurate picture.

Description of the Painting

The focus of the painting is on a white frame cabin located immediately behind a two-story house. It features a beautiful scene of the typical countryside neighbourhood, with a path with beautiful tall trees on each side. Most of the scene features greens and earth tones, with the white paint sparkling against them. The repeated rectangles in the house's structure also contrast with the curves and arcs used to paint the trees, path, and overall landscape. This creates an emphasis on the houses and the cabin. Additionally, the wood calls attention to the significance of the birthplace cottage.

There is also an image of a slender human figure dressed in grey and white pointing to the birthplace cottage. However, the image is obscure. Therefore, its shadow emphasizes the pointing. Grant Wood used the image to emphasize the most important element in the painting. The painting features a well-organized landscape with linear precision and a unique repetition of form. All this emphasizes the order and harmony of life in the countryside. It is also worth mentioning that the painting is made from a birdseye perspective. Therefore, it looks like an aerial photo. This element makes the painting clearer. It also allowed the painter to include his details with more clarity. We can also see variety here, as compared to the iconic American Gothic, for example.

Where Is It Now?

After President Herbert Hoover declined the painting, Grant Wood sold it through a dealer. Over the years, it has changed ownership several times. The painting is currently located at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN, US.