Grant Wood’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” offers a whimsical, child-like interpretation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s well-known poem. The artist’s desire to preserve American folklore was part of his greater scheme to forge a national identity through art and history.
John Singleton Copley’s portrait, an idealized view of labor consistent with the democratic ideals of the New World, depicts Paul Revere as a working craftsman. At the time of this portrait Revere was a successful silversmith—not an American hero. Still, Copley captured the heroic qualities of physical strength, moral certainty, and intelligence that allowed Revere to play a pivotal role in American history.