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Lunchtime Rest

ca. 1940-1941 William H. Johnson Born: Florence, South Carolina 1901 Died: Central Islip, New York 1970 tempera and pen and ink on paper sheet: 13 x 18 in. (33.0 x 45.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.1100 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

The brilliant colors and bold stripes recall the multi-stripe designs of West African textiles and the African American tradition of freehand quilting. Johnson based Lunchtime Rest on memories of the South, even though by 1940 he had not visited for many years. Johnson captured the quiet dignity of rural workers’ rest from mundane activities without romanticizing their labor.

Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2009


Architecture - machine - crane

Architecture - other - well

Ethnic - African-American

Figure group - male

Occupation - industry - construction

State of being - other - sleep



paint - tempera

paper - wove paper