Grant Wood (1891–1942), Portrait of a Young Woman Wearing Kerchief

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by

Portrait of a Young Woman Wearing a KerchiefGrant Wood (1891–1942)
Portrait of a Young Woman Wearing Kerchief, undated
Pencil on paper, 12 x 7 ½ inches
Purchased with funds donated by the Reverend Richard L. Hillstrom in memory of his brothers Leland and Rodney

This superb drawing by Wood shows the artist’s remarkable skill at subtle rendering of images, especially in the sensitive handling of the unidentified woman’s fine hair, the delicate highlights that add sparkle to her eyes, and the demure depiction of the gingham fabric of her blouse, just visible below her kerchief. The last element signals the artist’s allegiance to the Regionalist approach in its adherence to homespun imagery and motifs from the Midwestern farming milieu, and the artist frequently used the checked pattern for garments and tablecloths depicted in his works. The drawing has been authenticated by James M. Dennis, one of the most prominent scholars on Grant Wood and the author of the fundamental study Grant Wood, A Study in American Art and Culture (1986), who suggests that the portrait was likely drawn from a photograph. Although Wood is best known for his Regionalist landscapes of the Iowa countryside, he also worked in portraiture throughout his career. Among his best known portraits is a painting of his mother Hattie holding a potted plant, his own selfportrait with a windmill in the background, and a stylish depiction of his sister Nan, done, according to the artist, to make up for how dowdy she appeared when she modeled for Wood’s most famous work, his 1930 oil painting American Gothic.

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.


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