Jacob Lawrence

American, 1917-2000

Seaman's Belt

Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917–2000). Seaman's Belt, 1945. Gouache and watercolor on paper mounted on board, 21 x 29 inches (53.3 x 73.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; The Martha Jackson Collection at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, 1974 (1974:8.17). © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

© The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

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© The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Seaman's Belt, 1945

Artwork Details

Materials

gouache and watercolor on paper mounted on board

Measurements

support: 21 x 29 inches (53.34 x 73.66 cm)

Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Credit

The Martha Jackson Collection at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1974

Accession ID

1974:8.17

In a style characterized by basic forms and expressive color, Jacob Lawrence highlighted momentous events and people in African American history, such as Haiti’s emancipation from European rule in 1804 and the life of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Lawrence also documented aspects of his own life, particularly his military service. After being drafted into the Coast Guard in 1943, he served as combat artist on the USS General W. P. Richardson. Seaman’s Belt is not typical of the artist’s work; it provides neither a specific narrative nor does it contain any figures. However, these elements have a strong presence. It appears as if the sailor has just removed his belt and emptied his pockets. Keys, a crumpled pack of cigarettes, matches, and an identification badge point to contemporary civilization, while the pattern on the knife and beadwork on the belt allude to indigenous artistic traditions. This work may also be an unconventional self-portrait—the end of the war was nearing and Lawrence was to return soon to civilian life.

Label from 2017

The Martha Jackson Collection