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Josephus Farmer
Samson
1982
painted redwood with rhinestones
27 3/8 x 27 3/4 x 1 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson



Farmer was an itinerant evangelical minister in St. Louis, who began carving and selling religious images to finance his proselytizing work. At the upper left of the panel Samson struggles with a lion at Timnath and then points to his hair as he reveals the secret of his strength to Delilah. At the lower right Adam and Eve pick fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and in the vignette above, are expelled from the Garden of Eden. Collectively, these disconnected accounts, along with the images of Jeremiah in chains and the Lamb of God, address issues about man's free will.