John Steuart Curry was born in 1897 in the state of
Kansas, in the house that you see in the painting, "Tornado Over
Kansas". When he was 18, he left home to study art in Kansas City
and Chicago. He made a living by illustrating books and magazines.
For eight months he studied in Paris, France.
When he returned from Paris, he moved to Connecticut. There he painted
"The Baptism". People were not painting about this
subject at the time, but a wealthy woman saw it. She liked it so well
that she told Curry that she would support him
(Look at the link, "Article about Curry" to
read an article about him and look at some of his paintings. You can
click on the Real Audio link and hear the interview that is recorded
In the spring of 1932, he traveled with the circus and
made many drawings and did some paintings of circus scenes.
(See the links below about Circus Elephants and Baby
Some people in Kansas didn't like his painting of the
tornado. They thought it would make people think that Kansas was
not a good place to live.
The state of Kansas asked him to paint a mural in the
state house, but they didn't agree with his ideas for the pictures,
and they asked him to stop painting it. He was very upset and wouldn't
even sign the paintings that he had already
finished. Nearly 50 years later, the legislature apologized and bought
the drawings he had done.
Curry's watercolor "Sanctuary" shows the effects of a great flood in 1926 near Lawrence, Kansas. Animals caught in the flood have found refuge on a small hill in the flooded waters.
"Baptism in Kansas" was an oil painting created in 1928. Notice the white robes of the other candidates for baptism. It is a large painting, 40x50 inches, containing bright colors and many details. He has included birds in the picture reminiscent of the dove which appeared at the baptism of Jesus..
After he died in 1946, his paintings were removed from
people forgot about him. Years later though, they began to realize that
he really had been a good artist and had a message for the people. His
paintings began to be shown again.