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The History of America

Archibald Motley1938

DuSable Museum of African American History

DuSable Museum of African American History

Oil on canvas painting featuring a tableau of American historical figures. At far right, Abraham Lincoln places his hand on the head of a freed slave kneeling at his feet. Behind them are a man in a top hat and three women wearing dresses with wide skirts, evidently facing the front end of a black train in the background. A more modern light blue train appears behind the older one. At center right, a man in blue tights leans toward Lincoln, holding a rifle pointed upward in his right hand. Next to him stands a figure that appears to be Christopher Columbus, holding a tall spear in one hand and a sword in the other. He wears a red and purple garment with pink tights. Behind him, a man in blue and purple clothing and a hat stands to the right, while a man in a dark robe and cap holding a rosary stands to the left. At far left, two male figures with rifles stride to the left, accompanied by a light brown dog. Behind them, two cows pull a large wagon with a light blue hood. Utility poles stretch past them into the distance. Several other modes of transportation appear in the painting’s background, including a large steam ship, airship, airplane, and the two trains. Motley’s signature appears in red in the lower left-hand corner.

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