John Rogers Cox

American, 1915–1990

Wheat Field Landscape, late 1940s

Oil on canvas

30 x 36 inches

Signed lower right

Cox was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the free spirit among four boys growing up in a prominent local banking family. In 1941 he became the first director at the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute. Cox was responsible for forming the core of the museum’s collection, including major works by Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and Edward Hopper. In 1943 Cox left the museum and enlisted in the army. After the war he left  dedicated himself to painting. He moved to Chicago in 1948 and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago until 1965.

Considered one of the great American scene and magic realist painters, Cox produced approximately 20 oil paintings during his most important period of the 1940s. Wheat fields were the artist’s favorite subject: “A wheat field has a whispering sound and an awe-inspiring quality like drifting music and, like an ocean, it gives you a lonely feeling.” In the present work, the moon and cloud set against the midnight blue sky over the wheat field depict the eeriness seen in Cox’s best pictures.