A 30-panel series of paintings, “Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56)” by renowned Black artist Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), was put on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, from January 18 to April 26, 2020. Five paintings in the series were “lost” and represented on the wall with empty spaces. On August 29, the exhibition opened at the The Metropolitan Museum in New York City. An observant visitor remembered a painting she had seen in a neighbor’s living room and thought it could be one of the missing paintings. Turns out it was! The neighbors bought the painting in 1960 at a charity art auction benefitting a music school. The 1956 painting — Lawrence’s Panel 16 — depicts Shays’ Rebellion, an uprising which took place in Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787, a few years after the end of the Revolutionary War. It is now reunited with the rest of the known works for the remainder the exhibition, which will travel on loan to shows in Birmingham, Seattle and Washington, D.C., through next fall. In 2017, one of the panels sold for $413,000. Four of the 30 panels remain missing. 


jacob lawrence art panel found the struggle series

Panel 16 from “Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56)” by Jacob Lawrence


Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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