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An iconic Iowa fall landscape in the 1920s

Posted on October 22, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Allison Sheridan

The feelings of fall, vibrant colors on trees, flavors of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, sweaters and light jackets, shorter days and ultimately the holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving color the months from September to November. In this fine art etching, a work of art by famed Iowa cartoonist and conservationist Jay N. “Ding” Darling, the artist captures the iconic Iowa fall landscape in the 1920s. 

Shocks of corn, dry fields, plump pumpkins and a farmer harvesting mark the “End of the Day” or the end of season. With the corn crop, pumpkins, and rider with horse and wagon, this image is the closest Darling's fine artwork comes to American Regionalism made popular by the likes of Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton. Darling used this “End of Day” title (or a variation) on several of his prints. His October 26, 1924 cartoon on the death of Henry C. Wallace, "Agriculture has lost one of its ablest councilors," also featured corn shocks and pumpkins similar to those in this print. 

The University Museums’ permanent collection contains numerous examples of Darlings fine art prints and printing plates, the largest holdings of these works of art in the state. The University of Iowa’s archives and the Drake University archives both contain the editorial cartoon work of Darling, much of which was published in the Des Moines Register over his lifetime. A publication, in its third edition, on Darling’s fine art is available from University Museums. 

This fall work of art also reminds us that winter is just around the corner…

More about Ding Darling

IMAGE: The End of the Day, 1927 by Jay Norwood Darling (American, 1876 – 1962). Etching on paper. Gift of the J. N. "Ding" Darling Foundation. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM82.187

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