Boarding House Bath Postcard

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Boarding House Bath Postcard

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Boarding House Bath is an original work by Nan Wood Graham, sister of Grant Wood and the model for the woman in American Gothic.

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The original oil painting was gifted to the State Historical Society of Iowa by Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret, and is currently on display inside the American Gothic House Center.

From our gallery: “Beginning in the late 1930s, Nan and her husband Ed Graham lived in various boarding houses throughout California. Nan had countless encounters with landladies and other boarders, who were the likely inspiration for this painting. Grant Wood’s plan for a painting called The Bath - 1880 may also have influenced Nan’s choice of subject matter.

The painting, highlighted by Nan’s sense of humor, depicts two men in robes entering a shared bathroom. Hand-written signs declare rules for proper use of the room. Nan gave the viewer an unusual vantage point, making the inside of the toilet and sink visible as if the two were tipped forward. The original painting features silver gum wrapper over the mirror, giving it a reflective surface. Nan’s use of vivid colors and clean, precise lines creates a distinctive style also visible in her reverse paintings on glass.”