Family Doctor

Family Doctor

Grant Wood (b. 1891 - d. 1942)

Family Doctor

1940

lithograph

Knox College Art Collection

Depicting only a pair of hands, this work utilizes a focused vision to create an intimate portrait of Wood’s personal physician, Dr. A.W. Bennet. Known for his Regionalist depictions of everyday rural life in the Midwest (most notably American Gothic). Wood resided in Iowa for most of his life. The precise detail emphasizes the connection between art and optical science in American visual culture. It also recalls the Northern Renaissance tradition of extreme surface naturalism, which influenced Wood’s style during his trips to Europe in the 1920s. The close-up study of the doctor’s delicate hands and the cold metal of the tools suggests an uneasy alliance between modern science, humans, and the doctors who mediate the interaction. The pocket watch serves as a symbolic reminder of the doctor’s role in life and death, recalling the Northern European tradition of vanitas still lifes. This lithograph was published by the Association of American Artists (AAA). It distributed low-cost original prints, which was in keeping with the democratic cultural ideals of the Regionalist movement.

Zuri Peterson