Capitalizing on the mid-1950s nostalgia for a lost vision of the American heartland, William Medcalf presents a view of a 19th century midwest barn dance, with smiling couples who appear plucked straight of out of the 1955 Academy Award winning musical Oklahoma! This large, colorful, highly expressive oil on board with graphite highlights was created as the final preliminary painting for a published Brown & Bigelow calendar image. During the 50s, Bil Medcalf was known as one of the company’s star illustrators, and created numerous 12 page calendar series based around themes of classic Americana.
Not only is this illustration highly developed for a preliminary artwork, it features a remarkable variety of figures. Young couples court on the dance floor and grandmotherly figure claps along to the music, as a clandestine flirtation occurs in the upper right. Its a vibrant example of Medcalf’s sophisticated approach to calendar art, and a great view of rural life in an idyllic old frontier.