Deception, from "The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture"

Photo: Scott Leen

Deception, from "The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture"


Jacob Lawrence

American, 1917 - 2000

Lou Stovall

American, 1937 - 2023

“If these people, who were so much worse off than the people today, could conquer their slavery, we can certainly do the same thing.” —Jacob Lawrence

The fifteen silkscreen prints that comprise Lawrence’s The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture celebrate the Haitian revolutionary strategist and statesman (1743–1803) who liberated his country from colonial rule to establish the first independent Black republic. Rendered in the compressed space and layered forms of Lawrence’s cubism-inflected modernism, the images register key moments from Toussaint’s biography—his childhood in slavery, his fortitude as a leader, his victory and betrayal, and his enduring legacy—as an anthology of revolutionary valor designed to resonate with contemporary struggles.

The prints are based on the first of Lawrence’s renowned narrative painting cycles, The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture. Began in 1936, when he was not yet twenty years old, this series reflects the impact of his mentors, the artist-activists Augusta Savage and Henry Bannard, as well as the extensive source material he had consulted at the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library. Armed with knowledge and alert to the need for change, he was ready to center individuals of African descent in the fight for liberty and justice in the Americas.
Silkscreen on Bainbridge two ply rag paper through hand-cut film stencils
Image: 18 1/2 x 28 3/4 in. (47 x 72.9 cm)
Paper: 22 1/4 x 32 1/4 in. (56.5 x 81.9 cm)
General Acquisition Fund
Provenance: The artist; private collection; [Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, Washington]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2021
Photo: Scott Leen
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesPeter T. Nesbett, ed. Jacob Lawrence: The Complete Prints (1963–2000). Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001: p. 16.

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