John Steuart Curry (1897-1946) created fourteen illustrations in 1945 for Stephen Vincent Benét's epic poem John Brown's Body published in 1948 for The Limited Editions Club by George Macy Companies, Inc. The Dancing Party (Friends and Neighbors of Wingate Hall) illustrates the party where Clay Wingate, scion of a prosperous Georgia family, falls in love with Sally Dupré of the neighboring Appleton family. The scene, depicted with Curry's characteristic brushwork, refers to the line of the poem:
There he was coming down the line
Hand in hand with a dark slim girl
Whose dress was the color of light wine
The painting captures the moment of connection for the two young lovers across from page 48, the third of the book's fourteen illustrations.
The fourth illustration The Attack of Fort Sumter by John Steuart Curry for John Brown's Body appears across from page 76 of Benét's poem. The Battle of Fort Sumter was site of the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter on April 12th and 13th, 1861, near Charleston, South Carolina. Curry chose to illustrate the battle as it marks the beginning of the American Civil War. He depicts soldiers of the Confederate Army firing cannon on the beleaguered fort, held by Colonel Anderson of the Union Army. Billowing clouds from recent shots are echoed by the smoke overhanging the fort. Through the distant haze an American flag can be seen, still standing over the fort. Rendered in free, energized brushwork, Curry's style of painting conveys the tumultuous atmosphere of the attack.