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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Gwendolyn Knight

Photo: Susan Cole

Gwendolyn Knight


Augusta Savage

Born Green Cove Springs, Florida, 1892; died New York City, New York, 1962

After studying sculpture in New York and Paris, the sculptor Augusta Savage opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem in 1931. She became a mentor to a generation of young artists, including Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight, of whom this bust is a portrait. Modeled in clay and cast in plaster, it captures Knight’s delicate features, penetrating personality, and formidable presence. Savage unveiled this bust at an exhibition of her students’ work at the Harlem Art Workshop in February 1935. Because she lacked the resources to cast her plaster pieces in bronze, few examples of her work survive—this is a rare exception.
Painted plaster
18 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 9 in. (47 x 21.6 x 22.9 cm)
Gift of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Provenance: The artist; to the sitter, Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence (1913-2005), Seattle, Washington; bequeathed to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2006
Photo: Susan Cole
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Sandra Jackson Dumont & Dr. Lowery Sims talk about Augusta Savage


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Forget Me Not: Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, From New York to Seattle: Case Studies in American Abstraction and Realism, Jan. 15, 2020 - June 5, 2022 [on view May 12, 2021 - June 5, 2022].

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesBearden, Romare, and Harry Henderson. A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993; reproduced p. 174

Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures. London: Scala Publishers, for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007; pp. 18-19, reproduced p. 18.

Junker, Patricia. New York Stories," A Community of Collectors. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2008; p. 211, reproduced p. 210, fig. 173.

Hills, Patricia. Painting Harlem Modern: The Art of Jacob Lawrence. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009; p. 19, reproduced fig. 7.

Severens, Martha R., et al. Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in The Johnson Collection. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2018; p.46, reproduced.

Pierce, Jerald. "Re-imagining American art: Seattle Art Museum offers a more expansive, inclusive look at U.S. art." The Seattle Times, The Mix E5, October 30, 2022: reproduced. [A version of this article appears online on October 25 with the headline: “How Seattle Art Museum is working to make its American art galleries more inclusive,”]

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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