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1967 Jacob Lawrence Born: Atlantic City, New Jersey 1917 Died: Seattle, Washington 2000 brush and ink, pen and ink, crayon, and pencil on paper sheet: 22 x 29 1/2 in. (56.0 x 74.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation 1986.6.53 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

“My work is abstract in the sense of having been designed and composed, but it is not abstract in the sense of having no human contact. I want to communicate. I want the idea to strike right away.” ---Jacob Lawrence

Escape is a preliminary study for Through Forests, Through Rivers, Up Mountains, Lawrence’s tribute to Harriet Tubman, who, after her own escape from slavery, helped others negotiate the journey to the northern states and Canada. Communicating his idea forcefully, Lawrence depicted Tubman schematically; her hands are large as they urge fleeing families to move forward.

Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014


Allegory - civic - liberty

Allegory - other - liberation

Animal - reptile - snake


Figure group





paper - wove paper - arches