According to information from the State Historical Society of Iowa, a collection of historic pieces of John Deere-themed work created by artist Walter Haskell Hinton in the 1930s is currently on display through July 18, at the State Historic Museum of Iowa.
In 1934, Hinton painted his first calendar image for Deere & Company, which was followed by twenty years of commissioned work with the intent of humanizing new agriculture machinery for the general public. To do so, Hinton often created an ideal world where the sun shines on perfect fields of corn and smiling families gathered around the new machines. By creating these portraits, a new vision of the farm was born, where modern technology was replacing teams of horses in an effort to enable farmers to work less and earn more.
Art historian Jaleen Grove notes in the Historical Society release that the “patriotic horse was the noblest and most important farm animal, indispensable in plowing and harvesting, and therefore the heart and soul of farming… Walter Haskell Hinton’s job as a commercial artist for John Deere... was to transplant the horse’s soul to the tractor, to interpret the tractor as a member of the family.”
One of Hinton’s pieces of work included at the gallery helped publicize the John Deere Model “D,” which went on to become an icon in agriculture machinery history. Admission to the exhibit is free, providing a unique opportunity for the public to look through a window into farming life in the 1930s.