Soldiers and Students

Jacob Lawrence, American, 1917 - 2000

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1962

Opaque watercolor over graphite on wove Arches paper

Sheet: 22 7/16 × 30 7/16 in. (57 × 77.3 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Bequest of Jay R. Wolf, Class of 1951

© Jacob Lawrence / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

W.976.187

Geography

Place Made: United States, North America

Period

20th century

Object Name

Watercolor

Research Area

Watercolor

Not on view

Inscriptions

Signed and dated, lower right: Jacob Lawrence 62

Label

Throughout his career, Jacob Lawrence documented the raw emotions surrounding the experiences of African Americans. In Soldiers and Students, Lawrence reflects on the struggle for school desegregation and the violent chaos that consumed this historic movement. The painting depicts ten black students who tightly grasp their schoolbooks in the shadow of massive solders and mocking protestors, all of whom seem to block their path. By positioning viewers on the side of the students, Lawrence allows us to consider their distressing situation. The composition’s jagged outlines and bright fragments of colors further communicate the abrasiveness of the event.

This scene is reminiscent of the Little Rock Nine—a group of black students who enrolled in an all-white high school in Arkansas in 1957. On the first day of classes, the Arkansas National Guard blocked the students’ entry into the school, while protestors against desegregation flooded the area. The Dartmouth reported on this event, as seen in the reproduction below.

When comparing the painting to the newspaper, consider how different modes of communication var. How does Lawrence reveal perspectives that the newspaper omits? What emotions are gleaned from the painting that the newspaper does not convey?

From the 2020 exhibition A Space for Dialogue 99, When Art Intersects History, curated by Allison Carrey '20, Class of 1954 Intern

Course History

AAAS 88.19, Contemporary African-American Artists, Michael Chaney, Summer 2021

SOCY 2.01, Social Problems, Kristin Smith, Winter 2022

HIST 10.04/AAAS 20.02, Dartmouth Black Lives, Julia Rabig and Darryl Barthe, Fall 2022

SART 20/SART 71, Drawing II/Drawing III, Jack Wilson, Fall 2022

Writing Program 5.01, Experience and Education: Students, Teachers, Institutions, and the Power of Learning, Francine A'Ness, Winter 2023

Sociology 2.01, Social Problems, Kristin Smith, Winter 2023

Writing 5.01, Experience and Education: Students, Teachers, Institutions and the Power of Learning, Francine A'Ness, Fall 2023

History 96.38, 20th Century US Social Movements, Julia Rabig, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

A Space for Dialogue 99, When Art Intersects History, Allison Carey, Class of 2020, Class of 1954 Intern, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 7-April 26, 2020.

Jacob Lawrence responds to the controversy surrounding school desegregation in the South with Soldiers and Students, one of several compositions by the artist to focus on demonstrations and violence. Three armed guards and several protestors block a group of African American students from entering a schoolhouse. With determined yet anxious expressions, the students grip their books and hold their ground, while the demonstrators declare their resistance to integration through mockery and threats of violence. The grimaces and downturned eyes of the soldiers convey their ambivalence as they dutifully fulfil their task, while Lawrence puts the viewer on the side of the students, encouraging us to identify with their frustrations and fear.

Jacob Lawrence, Terry Dintenfass, Inc., New York, no. 12, 1963.

Marks of Distinction: Two Hundred Years of American Drawings and Watercolors from the Hood Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 29-May 29, 2005; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 24-September 11, 2005; National Academy Museum, New York City, New York, October 20-December 31, 2005.

Probably 138th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, New York, New York, (not listed in cat.), February-March, 1963.

Protest and Hope: An Exhibition of Contemporary American Art,"Wollman Hall, New School Art Center, New School for Social Research, New York, New York, no. 28, 1967.

Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, March 7-July 6, 2014; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 30-December 21, 2014; Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, February 7-May 10, 2014

Works by Jacob Lawrence in the Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Friends-Cheatham Niche Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, (no cat.), April 10-May 23, 1999.

Publication History

Peter T. Nesbett, Michelle DuBois, eds., Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence, Patricia Hills, "Jacob Lawrence's Paintings during the Protest Years of the 1960s, pp. 175-191, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press in association with Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project, 2000, ill. p. 178

Peter T. Nesbett, Michelle DuBois with assistance from Stephanie Ellis-Smith, Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999): A Catalogue Raisonne, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press in association with Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project, 2000, ill. p. 151

Barbara J. MacAdam, Marks of Distinction, Two Hundred Years of American Drawings and Watercolors from the Hood Museum of Art, Manchester, Vermont: Hudson Hills Press, 2005, pp. 208, 273, ill. p. 209, no. 73.

Brian P. Kennedy and Emily Shubert Burke, Modern and Contemporary Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2009 p.159, no.129.

Allison Carey, A Space for Dialogue 99, When Art Intersects History, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2020.

Provenance

The artist; with Terry Dintenfass, Inc. (art dealer), New York, 1963; sold to Julius (Jay) Rosenthal Wolf (1929-1976), Class of 1951, New York, New York; given to present collection, 1976.

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