The Studio

Photo: Paul Macapia

The Studio


Jacob Lawrence

American, 1917 - 2000

This self-portrait shows Jacob Lawrence on the steps of his attic studio in the house in which he and his wife Gwendolyn lived, the first of two studios he created in Seattle. The painting expresses Lawrence's expert command of flat color shapes, combined with diagonal lines that create the illusion of space. The strong Z-shape of the banister and stairwell frame relate to the similar visual impact created by wood planks, tools and sawhorses in Lawrence's Builders compositions, casually displayed in the background of the painting. The artist seems to gesture to us to survey the surroundings. The scene out of the window is the biggest surprise: Lawrence has depicted a view of Harlem tenement buildings just beyond his Seattle studio, bringing together the two cities that had the most profound impact on his life and his career.
Gouache on paper
30 x 22 in. (76.2 x 55.88 cm)
Overall h.: 37 3/8 in.
Overall w.: 29 in.
Partial gift of Gull Industries; John H. and Ann Hauberg; Links, Seattle; and gift by exchange from the Estate of Mark Tobey
Provenance: The artist; [Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, Washington]; purchased by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 1990
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Sandra Jackson Dumont & Dr. Lowery Sims talk about the Lawrence gallery


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Views and Visions In The Pacific Northwest, June 7 - Sept. 2, 1990.

Seattle, Washington, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington, Jacob Lawrence Paintings 1972-1984, Oct. 19 - Dec. 6, 1994.

New York, New York, Midtown Payson Galleries, Jacob Lawrence: An Overview 1936-1995, Jan. 5 - Feb. 25, 1995.

La Conner, Washington, Museum of Northwest Art, Jacob Lawrence, Mar.15 - June 19, 1997.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Documents International Reflections in the Mirror: A World of Identity, Apr. 23, 1998, - June 13, 1999.

Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence, May 27 - Aug. 19, 2001 (New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Nov. 8 - Feb. 3, 2002; Detroit, Michigan, The Detroit Institute of arts, Feb. 24 - May 19, 2002; Los Angeles, California, June 16 - Sept. 8, 2002; Houston, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Oct. 5, 2002 - Jan. 5, 2003; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Feb. 6 - May 4, 2003). Text by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois. No cat. no., pp. 254, 332, reproduced fig. 123.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Forget Me Not: Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing [on view Oct. 20, 2022 - Apr. 9, 2023].
Published ReferencesJohns, Barbara. "Modern Art from the Pacific Northwest in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1990, no. 17, p. 21

"Selected Works." Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 130

Raczka, Bob, "Here's Looking At Me, How Artists See Themselves", 2006, pg. 27

"Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures." London: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007, pp. 18-19, illus. p. 19

Sleeth, Judith M., Art in Action, American Art, "Lawrence: The Studio, Project: Dream Room", Program 5, pg. 122

Pierce, Jerald. "How Seattle Art Museum is working to make its American art galleries more inclusive." The Seattle Times, October 25, 2022: reproduced, [A version of this article appeared in print on October 30 with the headline: "Re-imagining American art: Seattle Art Museum offers a more expansive, inclusive look at U.S. art" (not reproduced).]

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