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Baby Ruth

John Steuart Curry (1897–1946), Baby Ruth, 1932, oil on canvas, 35 3/4 x 20 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Child.


After studying art in Paris, Curry, an American Scene painter, traveled for three months in 1932 with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Here, “Baby” Ruth Pontico worked in the popular “freak show” as the “fat girl.” At her peak weight of 800 pounds, she was one of the highest paid side-show employees of her time. Freak shows and circuses were popular in England in the 18th century before gaining momentum in America in the next century.

Curricular Resources

The MOA has created suggested discussion prompts and assignments for BYU CIV faculty and students to use. Each assignment is based on themes that correspond with GE learning outcomes.

View Curricular Resources Related to This Work:
The Individual and the Public Eye