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Jacob Lawrence is best known for his scenes in the lives of African Americans. These works are usually rendered in gouache and in a style using simple shapes and bright colors. In this example, which relates to the traditional portrayal of the artist at work, Lawrence pictured himself with paintbrushes, paint jars, and some of his works visible on the back wall. His open expression, seen close up, evokes his good-natured personality, which was widely appreciated within art and educational circles.

Lawrence created this work as his Associate's diploma presentation and shows the artist in his studio surrounded by his works. To the right of the artist is a version of Lawrence's painting "Tombstones," while below, are several versions of several paintings from my Builder's theme. The work to the upper left of the composition is a version from a painting originally executed for the children's book "Harriet and the Promised Land" from the life of Harriet Tubman, while the figure to the lower left of the composition is one that Lawrence used in many of the works from his Builders series.

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  • Title: Self-Portrait
  • Creator: Jacob Lawrence
  • Date Created: 1977
  • Physical Dimensions: 22 1/8 x 30 inch
  • Provenance: Gift from the artist, ANA diploma presentation, 1977
  • Type: Work on Paper-Watercolor
  • Medium: Gouche on tempera on off-white wove paper

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