Jacob Lawrence 
American, 1917 - 2000
The Legend of John Brown, 1977
Serigraph on paper
13 15/16 x 20 1/16 inches
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Davis, 1978.34.13
©2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Jacob Lawrence: The Legend of John Brown

January 23, 2016 - March 26, 2016

Graphics Gallery

Jacob Lawrence's series consists of 22 silkscreen prints that illustrate the events leading up to John Brown's notorious raid on a U.S. Military arsenal in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Abolitionist John Brown belonged to a devout family with extreme antislavery views. He ardently believed that the oppression of slavery could be ended by an armed slave rebellion. He therefore planned to break into the arsenal and steal enough weaponry to equip hundreds of slaves. He and his followers were overpowered by federal troops, and Brown was later arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death.

Jacob Lawrence first heard the story of John Brown as a child at the YMCA African American history club. He remembered the story being told in a very "dramatic way," which later shaped his own retelling of the story. The bold colors and crisp lines of these silkscreens reinforce the intensity of the heroic character of the famous abolitionist.