Jacob Lawrence Painting Resurfaces After 60 Years

Jacob Lawrence Painting Resurfaces After 60 Years

Sarah Vance Harrison

After being missing for 60 years, a painting by artist Jacob Lawrence has recently resurfaced. Lawrence was a well-known African American modernist painter of the 20th century who lived from 1917 to 2002. He often used dynamic cubism and abstract art to show the experiences and hardships of African Americans. He gained national recognition for his work The Migration Series, which was published in 1941.

A visitor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art had noticed one of the missing pieces of an exhibition by Lawrence was in fact hanging up in their neighbors’ home. The owners of the painting said they purchased the artwork from Lawrence in 1960 at a Christmas charity auction and had it hanging up in their apartment in the Upper West Side ever since. 

The painting is the 16th panel in a 30 part series created by Lawrence from 1954 to 1956 called “Struggle: From the History of the American People.” The exhibition covers American events through the time period of 1775 to 1817. The recently discovered painting, titled “There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. — Washington, 26 December 1786,” depicts Shay’s Rebellion, a Revolutionary War Conflict between soldiers and farmers, and was completed in 1956. Four other works from the series are still missing. Currently, the artwork is hanging in the Met as part of the exhibition until November 1st before traveling to various other cities.