Parson Weems' Fable
Oil on canvas
50 1/8 x 38 3/8 in.
signed and dated l.r.: GRANT WOOD \ 1939
u.l. in ink on stretcher: "PARSON WEEMS' FABLE" \ GRANT WOOD 1939
u.r. in graphite on stretcher: OWNER MRS JOHN P. MARQUAND
label: Associate American Artists \ Inc. \ Title "Parson Weems Fables" \ Artist Grant Wood \ Medium \ Ledger No. \ Rack No. Bin No. \ 711 FIFTH AVENUE. NEW YORK
label:WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART \ 10 Wesr 8th Street, New York City \ Receiving Room 15 1/2 Mac Dougal Alley \ 1940 ANNUAL EXHIBITION OF PAINTINGS \ SCULPTURE, WATERCOLOR, DRAWINGS AND PRINTS \ JANUARY 10 - FEBRUARY 18, 1940 \ ARTISTS Grant Wood \ ADDRESS 1142 Court Street Iowa City Ia \ TITLE "Parson Weems' Fable" \ PRICE \ INSURANCE VALUATION \ RETURN ADDRESS c/o Assoc Amer Artists \ 711 Fifth Avenue
l.c. on frame in oil: PARSON WEEMS' FABLE
in graphite: PARSOn WeeMS
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
In 1939, Wood created this painting of the folktale of young George Washington and the cherry tree to remind viewers of America’s democratic foundations at a time when fascism was escalating in Europe.
Parson Weems, the author of the fable, pulls back the curtain and points to a six-year-old Washington who is confessing to his father, “I cannot tell a lie.” Wood humorously appropriated the adult head from Gilbert Stuart’s eighteenth-century portrait of the first president (which graces the one-dollar bill) for the young boy. The African Americans in the background, who are picking cherries, remind us that even though Washington was the first leader of the newly independent nation, he was a slaveholder his entire life.