Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle Exhibition Tour Leads to Discovery of a 2nd Missing Painting
Released March 2, 2021
Panel 28, unlocated since 1960 and discovered in NYC, joins final two stops of national exhibition tour. Three Paintings Remain Missing, Museum asks for the Public’s Help to Locate these Historic Works
SALEM, MA – A painting by celebrated 20th-century American artist, Jacob Lawrence, that had been previously unlocated for more than sixty years has been discovered and will join the 5-stop national exhibition tour of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM). Panel 28 is one of 30 that comprise Lawrence’s powerful epic series Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), and it will be reunited with the series’ other works for the final exhibition tour stops at the Seattle Art Museum (March 5 - May 23, 2021) and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (June 26 - September 19, 2021).
This announcement follows the discovery of Panel 16 in October, 2020. The location of three remaining paintings from Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series, Panel 14, Panel 20, and Panel 29, remain unknown. It is the Museums’ hope that the increased awareness of Jacob Lawrence’s work will help fully reunite this historic painting series for the first time since 1960. Any tips or information about the location of Panels 14, 20 and 29 may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until its recent discovery in a New York City apartment, Panel 28 had not been seen publicly for decades and was known through a black-and-white reproduction. The painting, called Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840—115,773, was inspired by a table of immigration statistics published in Richard B. Morris’s Encyclopedia of American History (1953), one of Lawrence’s sources of inspiration for the Struggle series. The gathered figures in Lawrence’s painting portray a message of hope and promise: a shawled woman cradles and nurses an infant baby while a brimmed hat man in the middle clutches a pot of a single rose—America’s national flower. Lawrence exaggerated the size of the hands to symbolize what it meant to arrive only with what could be carried.
“We are thrilled to share news of this important discovery, especially at a time when Americans are actively engaged with democracy,” said Lydia Gordon, PEM’s Associate Curator and the exhibition’s coordinating curator. “Lawrence created this body of work during the modern civil rights era to interpret pivotal moments in the American Revolution and early decades of the republic as ongoing struggles. Against the backdrop of the recent attack on the Capitol coupled with the welcoming of a new Presidential administration, Lawrence’s work encourages us to look to history and to art so we may understand America as a cyclical project of struggle and hope.”
Panel 28 has generously been lent to the national exhibition tour by its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. The owner inherited the painting through family members who, like the figures depicted in the painting, were themselves immigrants to America.
EXHIBITION TOUR Thanks to a partnership between the Peabody Essex Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and The Phillips Collection, Panel 28 has undergone conservation in order to join the final two stops of the national exhibition tour:
Peabody Essex Museum | January 18, 2020 - August 9, 2020
The Metropolitan Museum of Art | August 29, 2020 - November 1, 2020
Birmingham Museum of Art | November 20, 2020 - February 7, 2021
Seattle Art Museum | March 5, 2021 - May 23, 2021
The Phillips Collection | June 26, 2021 - September 19, 2021
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle is the first museum exhibition of the series of paintings Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56) by the best known Black American artist of the 20th century, Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000). Created during the modern civil rights era, Lawrence’s thirty intimate panels interpret pivotal moments in the American Revolution and the early decades of the republic between 1770 and 1817 and, as he wrote, “depict the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy.”
Reunited for the first time in more than sixty years, the Struggle paintings revive Lawrence's way of reimagining American history as shared history. Utilizing historical fact to underscore universal values, he created a broader narrative of U.S. history by pairing image and text, quoting a range of voices and rendering figures from prominent Founding Fathers to underrepresented historical actors. The exhibition, organized by PEM, tours nationally through 2021.
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation, Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, Henry and Callie Brauer and Burt Adelman and Lydia Rogers provided generous support. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.
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PROTECTING HEALTH AND SAFELY The health and safety of PEM’s staff and visitors is our highest priority. PEM has increased its safety protocols, including the frequency and intensity of its sanitation and disinfection efforts across the museum. Face coverings are to be worn at all times. To learn more, visit pem.org/safety.
PUBLICITY IMAGES High-resolution images are available upon request.
SOCIAL MEDIA Share your impressions with us on social media using #AmericanStruggle
ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time &mdash including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Thursdays through Sundays and holiday Mondays, 10 am–5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit pem.org