Dr. George Washington Carver

Media - 1967.59.597 - SAAM-1967.59.597_2 - 142407
Copied William H. Johnson, Dr. George Washington Carver, ca. 1945, oil on plywood, 32 1226 34 in. (82.667.9 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.597

Artwork Details

Dr. George Washington Carver
ca. 1945
Not on view
32 1226 34 in. (82.667.9 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Mediums Description
oil on plywood
  • Figure group
  • History — United States
  • Portrait male — Carver, George Washington
  • Occupation — science — botanist
  • Portrait male — Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
  • African American
Object Number

Artwork Description

The impact of George Washington Carver's (ca. 1864--1943) research on the science of agronomy and specifically on southern agriculture is incalculable. His work on crop rotation--alternating cotton with soybeans, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes to return nitrogen to the soil--revitalized cotton farming after years of declining production. Carver's motivation was not simply to improve the economics of cotton cultivation. He was committed to helping undernourished subsistence farmers improve their yields and grow crops that would improve their diets. He sent students into the countryside to teach cultivation techniques, livestock care, and food preservation practices. They spoke with farmers and passed out informational brochures with recipes for nutritious food. By the early twentieth century, Carver's work developing hundreds of new uses for agricultural products earned international acclaim. At the upper left, Johnson shows him shaking hands with President Franklin Roosevelt; at lower right, he receives an award from Henry Ford. 


Media - 1983.95.53 - SAAM-1983.95.53_2 - 142417
Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice
March 8, 2024September 8, 2024
William H. Johnson's Fighters for Freedom series from the mid-1940s is a tribute to African American activists, scientists, teachers, and performers as well as international heads of state working to bring peace to the world. The exhibition Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice is drawn entirely from the collection of more than 1,000 works by William H. Johnson given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the Harmon Foundation in 1967 and reminds us that individual achievement and commitment to social justice are at the heart of the American story.