Relocated Jacob Lawrence painting to join exhibition  

Jacob Lawrence painting

Panel 28, 1956, Inscription: ‘The Emigrants—1821-1830 (106,308).’ Private Collection. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Lucia | Marquand

SALEM, Mass. – A painting by celebrated 20th century American artist, Jacob Lawrence, that had been missing for more than 60 years has been discovered and will join the five-stop national exhibition tour of “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle,” organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. Panel 28 is one of 30 that comprise Lawrence’s powerful epic series “Struggle: From the History of the American People” (1954–56), and it will be reunited with the series’ other works for the final exhibition tour stops at the Seattle Art Museum (March 5–May 23) and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (June 26–Sept. 19).

This announcement follows the discovery of Panel 16 in October 2020. The location of three remaining paintings from Jacob Lawrence’s “Struggle” series, Panel 14, Panel 20 and Panel 29, remain unknown. It is the museums’ hope that the increased awareness of Jacob Lawrence’s work will help fully reunite this historic painting series for the first time since 1960. Any tips or information about the location of Panels 14, 20 and 29 may be sent to: missingpanels@pem.org

Until its recent discovery in a New York City apartment, Panel 28 had not been seen publicly for decades and was known through a black-and-white reproduction. The painting, called Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840—115,773, was inspired by a table of immigration statistics published in Richard B. Morris’s Encyclopedia of American History (1953), one of Lawrence’s sources of inspiration for the “Struggle” series. The gathered figures in Lawrence’s painting portray a message of hope and promise: a shawled woman cradles and nurses an infant baby while a brimmed hat man in the middle clutches a pot of a single rose—America’s national flower. Lawrence exaggerated the size of the hands to symbolize what it meant to arrive only with what could be carried.

Panel 28 has generously been lent to the national exhibition tour by its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. The owner inherited the painting through family members who, like the figures depicted in the painting, were themselves immigrants to America.