Description of the Painting
We see first a tall church spire which reaches into the sky on the left hand side, reaching close to the top of the painting. Light is centered around the front of its facade, with everything else in this small town placed in light shadow. We can make out each other construction, but understand that our focus should be on the church itself. The artist skillfully moves our gaze using this method, but also allows us to then witness plenty of detail elsewhere in the work. The road continues to the right hand side, winding around as it makes its way off into the distance. Grant Wood was well known for an interesting use of perspective and he played with the elements of his landscape scenes. We can also make out some tall trees in the far distance which are half way up a tall hill at the back. The remaining properties appear to be residential homes in which the church's congregation would live. Clearly the composition has been adapted with the artist's own imagination in order to create a dream-like vision of rural life in America at that time.
Who was Paul Revere
The town shown here is believed to be Lexington, Massachusetts. The figure pictured is Paul Revere, who appears within a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He can be found on the main road on horseback, and appears to be waving at passers-by. It is believed that this depiction is not intended to be entirely facturally accurate, and is more of a playful adaptation by the artist. It is believed that the artist made use of a hobby horse, borrowed from a child, as a study tool for Revere's horse which shows some imagination if nothing else. He would not have captured animals very often and so found this to be an easy way of ensuring a reasonable level of accuracy. This painting is listed at around 100cm wide and 76cm tall, and was created with the application of oils onto masonite, which is how the artist worked for much of his career.
Location of the Painting
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere can be found today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Despite their impressive collection, it is actually one of the few artworks by Grant Wood to be found within the institution. He himself has risen and fallen in popularity many times over since his career took hold, with some considering his work a little too sentimental, whilst others applaud the inventiveness of his landscapes and portraits, as well as in how he focused on life in the US. Visitors to the gallery should check ahead to see if it is on display as the Met has a huge collection that inevitably has to be rotated in order to show as many different items as possible. They do also loan out items sometimes in order to allow the public to see as much of their display as is possible. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere remains amongst the most famous paintings produced by Grant Wood and its inclusion within this prominent museum has also helped it to retain a key position within his oeuvre.