Godly Susan

Media - 1992.84 - SAAM-1992.84_1 - 11538
Copied Roger Medearis, Godly Susan, 1941, egg tempera on board, 27 5823 58 in. (70.160.0 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Roger and Elizabeth Medearis, 1992.84

Artwork Details

Title
Godly Susan
Date
1941
Dimensions
27 5823 58 in. (70.160.0 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Roger and Elizabeth Medearis
Mediums
Mediums Description
egg tempera on board
Classifications
Keywords
  • Architecture — religious — church
  • Landscape — farm
  • Portrait female — Medearis, Susan Carns — elderly
Object Number
1992.84

Artwork Description

Roger Medearis completed this painting of his grandmother Susan Carns Medearis at the end of a three years' study with Thomas Hart Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute. Medearis used the sunporch of his father's church as a makeshift studio to create detailed sketches of his grandmother, who had suffered a stroke several years earlier. His grandmother holds a lemon, whose sour taste she enjoyed, in her strong, still-vibrant left hand, contrasting the paralyzed right side of her body. This portrait memorialized his beloved family matriarch. The title reflects Susan's role as the daughter and granddaughter of Baptist ministers and the mother of three more. Born in the early days of the Civil War, her life spanned one of the most formative times in American history; she died only months after this portrait was finished.
Luce Center Label
Roger Medearis completed this painting of his grandmother Susan Carns Medearis at the end of three years' study with Thomas Hart Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute. Medearis used the sunporch of his father's church as a makeshift studio to create detailed sketches of his grandmother, who had suffered a stroke several years earlier. He would wheel her up the ramp to the sunporch, where she often fell asleep while he worked. Medearis had her hold a lemon, whose sour taste she enjoyed, in her strong, still-vibrant left hand to contrast the paralyzed right side of her body. This portrait memorialized his beloved family matriarch. He titled the work Godly Susan because Susan Medearis was the daughter and granddaughter of two Baptist ministers and the mother of three more. Born in the early days of the Civil War, her life spanned one of the most formative times in American history; she died only months after this portrait was finished.

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