Did You Know? 1930.

Grant’s sister, Nan Wood Graham, along with Dr. Byron McKeeby pose with Wood’s painting at the Cedar Rapids Public Library in September 1942.

Grant Wood – Iowa’s Iconic Artist – American Gothic.

In August 1930, Grant Wood was driving around the little southeastern town of Eldon, Iowa with a young local painter named John Sharp. Looking for inspiration, he noticed the Dibble House, a small white home built in the Carpenter Gothic architectural style. After obtaining permission from the owners, Wood made a sketch the next day from the front yard.

Upon his return to Cedar Rapids, Grant decided to paint the house along with, in his words, “the kind of people [I] fancied should live in that house.” He recruited his sister, Nan, to be the model for the daughter, dressing her in a colonial print apron mimicking early 20th-century rural Americana. The model for the father was the Wood family’s dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby from Cedar Rapids.

Wood entered the painting in a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. One judge deemed it a “comic valentine,” but a museum patron persuaded the jury to award the painting the bronze medal and a $300 cash prize. That same patron also persuaded the Institute to buy the painting, and it remains part of the Chicago museum’s collection today.


Did you know? is an Our Iowa Heritage blog series that offers you a little bit of Iowa trivia from a large selection of stories on our website. Subscribe to this FREE blog and you’ll get a new email from us every Monday – Wednesday – Friday.

Join us for Our Iowa Heritage blog posts.

Learn some historical facts about Iowa City, Johnson County, or Eastern Iowa.

Amaze your friends.

Click to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s