Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables

Solo en Inglès

Dinner for Threshers, 1934

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Glenn Adamson: This painting is called Dinner for Threshers and it is one of Wood's most interesting and complicated pictures.

Narrator: Glenn Adamson.

Glenn Adamson: One way you could think about it is as a stage set. So it looks almost like the stage of a theater where a play is happening and you're seeing a house in cross-section.

Another way to think about it is as a kind of reference to Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. You have this table right in the middle with a gathering of men around. It does seem in fact that there's a kind of ritualistic quality, maybe even a religious implication to the picture.

But there's a third way of looking at the picture as a scene of Grant Wood's own childhood. You could even imagine that that figure way over on the left is himself, Grant Wood carrying this pail. Other figures in the painting might be stand ins for his sister or his father, his mother. It's a scene of a kind of idyllic perfection in a historical American setting.

Given that Grant Wood had a somewhat complicated set of memories about his childhood—his father died when he was only ten years old—the nostalgia that you see in a picture like this is also tinged with loss. So, as so often with Grant Wood's work, it's I think right to look at this picture as on the one hand, very romantic and celebratory, but on the other hand, tinged with a kind of sadness.

Painting of threshers dining and wives serving them.

Glenn Adamson: This painting is called Dinner for Threshers and it is one of Wood's most interesting and complicated pictures.

Narrator: Glenn Adamson.

Glenn Adamson: One way you could think about it is as a stage set. So it looks almost like the stage of a theater where a play is happening and you're seeing a house in cross-section.

Another way to think about it is as a kind of reference to Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. You have this table right in the middle with a gathering of men around. It does seem in fact that there's a kind of ritualistic quality, maybe even a religious implication to the picture.

But there's a third way of looking at the picture as a scene of Grant Wood's own childhood. You could even imagine that that figure way over on the left is himself, Grant Wood carrying this pail. Other figures in the painting might be stand ins for his sister or his father, his mother. It's a scene of a kind of idyllic perfection in a historical American setting.

Given that Grant Wood had a somewhat complicated set of memories about his childhood—his father died when he was only ten years old—the nostalgia that you see in a picture like this is also tinged with loss. So, as so often with Grant Wood's work, it's I think right to look at this picture as on the one hand, very romantic and celebratory, but on the other hand, tinged with a kind of sadness.


Grant Wood, Dinner for Threshers, 1934. Oil on board, 20 x 80 in. (50.8 x 203.2 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd 1979.7.105. © Figge Art Museum, successors to the Estate of Nan Wood Graham/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY