Dr. George Washington Carver

Media - 1967.59.1142 - SAAM-1967.59.1142_2 - 141129
Copied William H. Johnson, Dr. George Washington Carver, ca. 1945, oil on cardboard, 35 1228 12 in. (90.272.4 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.1142

Artwork Details

Dr. George Washington Carver
ca. 1945
Not on view
35 1228 12 in. (90.272.4 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Mediums Description
oil on cardboard
  • Occupation — science — botanist
  • Portrait male — Carver, George Washington
  • Portrait male — Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
  • History — United States — Black History
  • Figure group — male
  • African American
Object Number

Artwork Description

George Washington Carver fostered agricultural research at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute for more than forty years, finding new uses for the crops that were familiar to Southern black farmers. William H. Johnson framed the central figure of Carver with images of his laboratory equipment and of peanuts, cotton, sweet potatoes and other foods. To the right, Franklin Delano Roosevelt welcomes Carver to his advisory position with the Department of Agriculture in the 1940s. By 1945, the artist had created many images of heroic black figures, and had grown increasingly assertive about the artistic value of his own work. In this image, the palette ringed with brilliant colors recalls Carver’s success in extracting blue, purple, and red pigments from clay, but it also claims a bit of Carver’s territory for Johnson’s accomplishments as an African American artist.


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.