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Dr. George Washington Carver

ca. 1945 William H. Johnson Born: Florence, South Carolina 1901 Died: Central Islip, New York 1970 oil on fiberboard 35 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (90.2 x 72.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.1142 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 32A

Luce Center Label

George Washington Carver fostered agricultural research at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute for more than forty years, finding new uses for the crops that were familiar to Southern black farmers. William H. Johnson framed the central figure of Carver with images of his laboratory equipment and of peanuts, cotton, sweet potatoes and other foods. To the right, Franklin Delano Roosevelt welcomes Carver to his advisory position with the Department of Agriculture in the 1940s. By 1945, the artist had created many images of heroic black figures, and had grown increasingly assertive about the artistic value of his own work. In this image, the palette ringed with brilliant colors recalls Carver’s success in extracting blue, purple, and red pigments from clay, but it also claims a bit of Carver’s territory for Johnson’s accomplishments as an African American artist.


Ethnic - African-American

Figure group - male

History - United States - Black History

Occupation - science - botanist

Portrait male - Carver, George Washington

Portrait male - Roosevelt, Franklin Delano


paint - oil