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Going to Church

ca. 1940-1941 William H. Johnson Born: Florence, South Carolina 1901 Died: Central Islip, New York 1970 oil on burlap 38 1/8 x 45 3/8 in. (96.8 x 115.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.1003 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 31A

Luce Center Label

William H. Johnson painted rural scenes inspired in part by his memories of growing up in South Carolina. A family of four ride on an oxcart toward a distant hill, where three crosses mark their physical destination as well as their spiritual home on Calvary. The flat composition, comprised of clashing hues arranged in stripes and color blocks, recalls the story quilts made of scraps pieced together by African American women.


Animal - cattle

Architecture - religious - church

Ethnic - African-American

Figure group

Travel - land - cart


paint - oil

fabric - burlap