Jacob Lawrence

General Toussaint L'Ouverture

St. Marc


The Opener

Revolt on the Amistad

Jacob Lawrence is among the best-known, critically acclaimed post-Harlem Renaissance painters. Working primarily in oil and egg tempera and acrylic, Lawrence best-know for his historical narratives that illustrated events like the great migration or told the story of notable figures like Abolitionist John Brown, Harriett Tubman, and General Toussaint L'ouverture.  

Lawrence was just twenty-one years old when his series of paintings of the Haitian general Toussaint L’Ouverture was shown in an exhibit of African American artists at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This series was followed by series of paintings depicting the lives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as a series of pieces about the abolitionist John Brown. Lawrence was only 23 when his “Migration Series” made him nationally famous. The series of paintings depicted the epic Great Migration of blacks to the North and was featured in a 1941 issue of Fortune Magazine.

Lawrence married fellow artist Gwendolyn Knight in 1941 after receiving a job with the Works Progress Administration. The grant allowed Lawrence to study and work with such notable Harlem Renaissance artists as Charles Alston and Henry Bannarn in the Alston-Bannarn workshop.

Lawrence was honored as an artist, teacher, and humanitarian and his work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.In May of 2007, the White House Historical Association (via the White House Acquisition Trust) purchased Lawrence’s The Builders (1947) for $2.5 million at auction. The painting now hangs in the White House Green Room. Jacob Lawrence died June 9, 2000 at the age of 82.