How the Painting Came to be

At the time of the painting’s conception, it had been half a decade since Grant Wood skyrocketed into fame. He had initiated a collaboration with a publisher to write an autobiography. The book would record his work and return to his Midwestern roots after accomplishing as a Regionalist painter. In other words, his Return From Bohemia. Grant Wood composed the painting as an intended cover for the autobiography. Unfortunately, the book was never completed or published. Finally, however, the painting came into existence.

Description of the Painting

The composition features an image of Grant Wood staring directly at the viewer. The painter’s face appears grim. The clean-shaven painter appears to be working while surrounded by people dressed as farmers or small-town folk. The other figures in the painting look sombre and expressionless. Some would interpret their lack of expression and dropped heads as disappointment or lack of interest. They also do not look directly at the viewer as Wood does. Instead, they all appear to be inside a barn. This can be seen from the gothic arc-shaped figure with a distinctive arched window in the scene behind the individuals. The painting features dull and earthy colours like brown, grey, and orange.

Art critics have wondered whether the painter’s expression and the overall scene of the painting show that he wasn’t happy to be back home. Some wonder if the figures behind him and their expressionless faces as they watch him work were intended to display his feelings of restriction and unappreciation from his own home. These assumptions are warranted because the painter often talked of how moving away from his home opened up his eyes to new things and influenced his paintings. Therefore, it is safe to wonder how the painter felt about returning. However, he never spoke of his feelings after his return from Bohemia.

Where Is The Painting Now?

The Return From Bohemia remained part of the Grant Wood estate long after his death under his sister’s ownership. Following her death, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, gained ownership of the painting and other Grant Wood productions. After changing ownership severally, the painting is now part of the City of Davenport Art Collection, Museum purchase: Friends of Art Acquisition Fund. It is currently a promised gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.