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The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Oil by Grant Wood (1891-1942, United States)
Wood’s style became known as the School of American Regionalism. Idiosyncratic depictions of rural America and minute attention to detail are characteristic of his paintings. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931) exemplifies his meticulous approach to landscape. While referring to the narrative subject of this titular ride, Wood does not attempt historical accuracy. In fact, he shows little interest in the event itself, and instead, depicts the landscape and vernacular architecture of colonial Massachusetts. It is a highly personal vision of American culture, which some claim is an ambiguous mixture of adoration and satire. Purportedly the source and inspiration for the horse, and the painting itself, was a child’s rocking horse. The bird’s eye view of the town and surrounding countryside becomes ethereal when rendered with Wood’s formal and emotional precision. Much like his legendary American Gothic (1930), The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931) draws its power from formal inventiveness and moral ambiguity.