By the mid-1930s, Grant Wood's Regionalist imagery was well-known throughout the country and his schedule of exhibitions and lectures afforded him little time to work on major paintings. As a result, much of his work after 1934 concentrated on drawings, illustrations, and prints. In 1937, Wood entered into an agreement with Associated American Artists, New York, to publish a minimum of four lithographs a year, resulting in a total of nineteen lithographs until 1941. The subjects of these prints most often mirrored themes Wood was already well acquainted with: rural life, farm scenes, and the changing seasons. The present work, Fertility, was reproduced in 1939 as a lithograph measuring 9 by 12 inches, most likely in an edition of 250.
During the second half of the 1930s, agricultural crises caused great unrest in farming communities throughout the Great Plains. Due to these national issues and influences "from the literature of Steinbeck and Faulkner to the American scene painters, artists in the United States turned inward" (B.M. Roberts, "The European Roots of Regionalism: Grant Wood's Stylistic Synthesis," Grant Wood: An American Master Revealed, exhibition catalogue, San Francisco, California, 1995, p. 32)
Although Wood's home "was in the Midwest, and he generally used his own territory to illustrate how Regionalism worked, he envisioned Regionalism as a national movement, with each region supporting its own artists...To Wood: 'Each section has a personality of its own, in physiography, industry, psychology. Thinking painters and writers who have passed their formative years in these regions, will, by care-taking analysis, work out and interpret in their productions these varying personalities.'" (W.M. Corn, Grant Wood: The Regionalist Vision, exhibition catalogue, New Haven, Connecticut, 1983, p. 43) In the present work, it is evident that given Wood's respect for the plight of the rural community and a sentimentality for agrarian culture, his "use of idyllic images to celebrate life on the land was a kind of elaborate praise of the farmer's exalted position." (J.M. Dennis, Grant Wood: A Study in American Art and Culture, New York, 1975, p. 210)