Here, Wood depicts the legendary story of the American patriot Paul Revere, as learned from an 1863 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. From a bird’s-eye view, the painting shows Revere on horseback racing through a colonial town square in Massachusetts. Despite the work’s historical subject matter, Wood did not attempt to depict the scene with factual accuracy. The houses are overly bright, as if lit by electric light, and the dramatic moonlight casts unrealistic shadows. The stylized houses, geometric greenery, and high perspective give the painting an otherworldly or dreamlike dimension.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): GRANT WOOD 1931
Mr. and Mrs. Cecil M. Gooch, Memphis, Tenn. (1931–50; gift in 1950 to Y. W. C. A.); Y. W. C. A., Memphis (1950; sold through the Maynard Walker Gallery, New York to MMA)
Art Institute of Chicago. "American Paintings and Sculpture: Forty-Fourth Annual Exhibition," October 29–December 13, 1931, no. 213.
Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture 1934," June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 718.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Fifty-Third Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture," October 29–December 10, 1942, no. 16 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Gooch, Memphis).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "20th Century Painters: A Special Exhibition of Oils, Water Colors and Drawings Selected from the Collections of American Art in the Metropolitan Museum," June 16–October 29, 1950, unnum. brochure (p. 12).
Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, brochure no. 55 (as "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Three Centuries of American Painting," April 9–October 17, 1965, unnum. checklist.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tribute to a Curator: Robert Beverly Hale," November 16, 1978–March 4, 1979, unnum. checklist.
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 54).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.
Omaha. Joslyn Art Museum. "Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed," December 10, 1995–February 25, 1996, no. 2.
Davenport, Iowa. Davenport Museum of Art. "Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed," March 23–September 8, 1996, no. 2.
Worcester, Mass. Worcester Art Museum. "Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed," October 6–December 31, 1996, no. 2.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900–2000. Part 1: 1900–1950," April 23–August 22, 1999, unnumbered cat. (fig. 446).
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. "Grant Wood at 5 Turner Alley," September 9–December 4, 2005, no. 11.
Washington, D. C. Smithsonian American Art Museum. "Grant Wood's Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic," March 10–July 16, 2006, no. 11.
"Pay $15,000 for Wood Painting." Des Moines Register (June 22, 1950), p. 3.
"Grant Wood Painting Bought for $15,000." New York Times (June 22, 1950), p. 25.
Sam Hunter and John Jacobus. American Art of the Twentieth Century: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York, 1973, fig. 292, calls it "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere".
Grant Wood's Studio: Birthplace of "American Gothic". Ed. Jane C. Milosch. Exh. cat., Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. New York, 2005, p. 105, colorpl. 11 and fig. 1 (in progress in the artist's studio, 1931).