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John Steuart Curry


category : Famous People
John Steuart Curry was born in 1897 and was raised on a farm six miles north of Oskaloosa. He completed the usual farm chores while attending school at Hickory Point. His artistic abilities soon caught the attention of his teacher.


By the time he was 12, he was taking formal drawing lessons at Oskaloosa from a Mrs. Alice Worswick who had studied in Paris. He attended high school at Winchester High School until, finding it a bore, he left school in 1916 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. Later, he attended the Chicago Art Institute for two years and then studied for a short time at Geneva College in Pennsylvania. After this he moved to Tenafly, N.J., where he worked and studied independently under the illustrator Harvey Dunn. After service in the World War he returned to his art at the Art Students' League in New York. In 1926 Seward Prosser, a wealthy New York banker, made it possible for him to study for two years under Shoukhieff at the Russian Academy of Art in Paris. For the next two years he had the assistance of Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, a generous patron of American art, and herself a sculptress of considerable ability.


The name of John Steuart Curry was almost unknown in Kansas before 1930, and very few outside of art circles were acquainted with his work. In 1933, he was ranked among the foremost contemporary American artists by inclusion of his painting, Baptism in Kansas, at the art exhibit held in the Chicago Art Institute during the World's Fair.


Curry's best known painting of John Brown in the Kansas Capitol depicts Brown more as a character from the Old Testament than a figure from American history. The figure of heroic size is shown grasping a Holy Bible in one outstretched hand and a "Beecher's Bible" in the other. The wrath of God is depicted by a tornado painted into the background behind Brown and
the just cause for which he fought is represented by the head of a Negro in the foreground. Because of an altercation with the Kansas Legislature, the painting was not finished and remains unfinished to this day.


Curry's paintings, "Western Migration" and "Justice Defeating Mob Violence," were done for the Department of Justice. Curry did not paint for the private collector but instead for the public. Most of his paintings are large and intended for museums or other public places where viewers can gain from them the spirit and feelings for the country he depicted.


How faithfully he has done his work cannot be determined without due consideration of the artist's motives, his sincerity of purpose and his inherent right of the use of emphasis perhaps even to the extent of distortion, by which he may seek to convey his message of truth.


Curry lived in Westport, CT., until 1936 when he was offered the position of Artist in Residence at the Agricultural College at the University of Wisconsin. He stayed there until his death in 1946.


Admission: free will donation
Hours: All buildings are open from May through September - Saturdays: 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Sundays: 1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Address: Old Jefferson Town, Oskaloosa, KS
Our Email: vawinsor@gmail.com

Come visit us in Oskaloosa, Kansas

Attractions and Upcoming Events

John Steuart Curry Boyhood Home Museum and Memoria

The Curry home was built in 1900. John Steuart Curry was then three years old. He lived in the home until he was eighteen. In 1987

Oskaloosa, KS Famous Homes

Old Jefferson Town, Museum, and Research Library

Old Jefferson Town is a collection of nine restored and furnished vintage buildings from different locations around Jefferson County. They are preserved as a historic town of early day settlements. The town was named because of Jefferson County being referred to as Ol' Jefferson.

Oskaloosa, KS Museums


Edmonds Chapel

Edmonds Chapel stood 4 1/2 miles north of McLouth, Kansas, for more than 75 years. Edmonds Church was an affiliate of the United Brethren in Christ (UB), though people from many denominations worshipped there down through the years.

Oskaloosa, KS Historic Churches

Nincehelser House

William J. Nincehelser moved to Jefferson County from Ohio about 1880, married Minnie Wendorff, and moved into this house in Oskaloosa. Mr. Nincehelser had a livery stable on the square and operated a

Oskaloosa, KS Museums

Things to do Famous People near Oskaloosa, KS

John Steuart Curry

John Steuart Curry was born in 1897 and was raised on a farm six miles north of Oskaloosa. He completed the usual farm chore...