The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa, 1931 by Grant Wood


The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa, 1931


Grant Wood

Ref RT42709-E1C
Type Canvas Print
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‘The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, West Branch, Iowa, 1931’ is painted in oil on wood, and held at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Grant Wood, born and raised in Iowa, was the foremost artist of the American Regionalist movement, which focused on the human condition and the values of a rural environment. This well-organized landscape, with its linear precision and repetition of forms, emphasizes the order and harmony of country life. A group of Iowa businessmen commissioned this painting to present to President Herbert Hoover, who was born in the white frame cabin situated immediately behind the two-story house in the middle of the scene. The president, who had stressed his humble origins during his campaign, refused the painting because the inclusion of the larger, later house obscured the cabin. Wood did not re-create the scene as it may have looked at the president's birth. Instead he painted it as the tourist attraction it had become. Upon Hoover's election to the presidency, the ordinary cottage, which had been turned into a kitchen by later owners, began to attract visitors from all over the country. The owner of the cottage charged visitors ten cents for tours of it and set up a souvenir stand. Wood included a sign in front of the house and a pink rock in which the Daughters of the American Revolution had placed a plaque identifying the house as Hoover's birthplace.