This work by Charles Whites shows a sharecropper woman standing on the threshold of her house looking out

Charles White

American, 1918–1979

Our Land, 1951

Egg tempera on panel

24 x 20 inches

Signed and dated lower right

As a boy White often skipped classes to wander the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago, envisioning himself as an artist one day. He received a series of scholarships from the museum’s school, where he began full-time study in 1937, and the museum’s collection served as a constant inspiration to White from his earliest truant afternoons.

White borrowed the pitchfork motif from Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic (painted in 1930 and acquired by the Art Institute the same year) for Our Land. The painting shows a sharecropper woman standing on the threshold of her house looking out over the land she cultivated each day but would never own. The boldly articulated, rounded lines White deployed to depict the figure enable him to create an intimate moment of dignity.

This work by Charles Whites shows a sharecropper woman standing on the threshold of her house looking out