American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood’s inspiration came from the American Gothic House and a decision to paint the house along with “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.”
He recruited his sister Nan (1899–1990) to model the woman, dressing her in a colonial print apron mimicking 19th-century Americana. The man is modeled on Wood’s dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby (1867–1950) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The three-pronged hay fork is echoed in the stitching of the man’s overalls, the Gothic window of the house and the structure of the man’s face.
Each element was painted separately; the models sat separately and never stood in front of that house.