5 Days of American Art: Grant Wood’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”

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Welcome to the last day of the 5 Day Blog Hop!  For this last day, we’ll be looking at another work of art concerning the life of Paul Revere.  Go to the “Picturing America” Gallery again, and click to enter the gallery, then hover over the painting on the lower left hand corner:  3a, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Grant Wood.  Click on that picture and let’s go!

2013_0804_141220AAIt’s said of Grant Wood, that he had a childhood delight and appreciation for the story of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.  Perhaps he imagined himself flying through the night, carrying the message from village to village that the British were coming, rousing families from sleep and warm beds.  Can’t you see that when you look at his wonderful painting?

Let’s look together at the painting for a moment.  Have your children observe and examine Wood’s work of art silently for a moment.  Then, ask them the following questions:

  • What do you see?
  • What is happening in this painting?
  • Where is Revere?
  • What colors did Wood use in this painting?  What do those colors communicate to you, the viewer?
  • What are the various people doing?
  • How would you describe the buildings?
  • Which building stands out the most?  Why do you think Wood painted it this way?
  • How would you describe the landscape?
  • What geometric shapes did Wood use to form the village and the countryside?
  • Where is the light in the painting coming from?
  • Where are you, the viewer, seeing the action from?
  • What feelings do you think Grant Wood had about his subjects and the scene he was painting?

Grant Wood was born in and lived most of his life in Iowa.  He received formal training for his art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as completing some studies in Europe.  He studied Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, yet the artist who presumably had the greatest influence on his work was Jan van Eyck, the 15th-century Flemish painter.  (See van Eyck’s “The Arnolfini Portrait” here).  Compare “The Arnolfini Portrait” with Wood’s arguably most famous painting, “American Gothic.”  In each of these paintings you can see great depth and detail, situated in poses of extreme stillness.  You can see his work illustrated in similar landscape painting in “Stone City, Iowa.”  Grant Wood is beloved by America, but especially so to Iowa as their native son.  An interesting side note is that Grant Wood is featured on the Iowa State Quarter.

You can see Wood’s great love for his subjects in his paintings. Although his work is often seen as social commentary, as in “American Gothic,” Wood actually meant to celebrate American character qualities and values.  Along with John Steurt Curry and Thomas Hart Benton, he is associated with an art movement in the US called Regionalism.  His “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” however, remains to me his most endearing.  Perhaps that’s because as a mom I delight in my son’s imaginative play.  I can so clearly see Wood as a small child, racing in his mind to save the colonists from the Redcoats!

Fun extras to do with your children:

  • Read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
  • Using blocks (or even Legos), build a road through a village.  Have a figure on a horse ride through, shouting, “The British are coming!  The Regulars are coming!”
  • Play the National Parks Service Web Ranger game, “The Patriot Spy,” to deliver a secret message to Paul Revere
  • Go on a virtual Midnight Ride at the Paul Revere House website

Please visit these links along with your children to verify that they’ve continued to be family-friendly!

Thanks so much for joining me this week for American Art!  I’ve loved sharing some of my favorite art lessons with you.  Don’t forget to sign up for my Schoolhouse Expo Giveaway, and I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for the last day of our Blog Hop!  And click here to check the next post on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog’s Blog Hop!

Enjoy!  –Wren

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