Potsdam Meeting

Media - 1967.59.655 - SAAM-1967.59.655_2 - 141134
Copied William H. Johnson, Potsdam Meeting, ca. 1945, oil on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.655

Artwork Details

Title
Potsdam Meeting
Date
ca. 1945
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
37 1228 12 in. (95.472.4 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on paperboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure group
  • Portrait male — Atlee, Clement — full length
  • Portrait male — Truman, Harry — full length
  • Object — other — flag
  • Portrait male — Stalin, Joseph — full length
  • History — United States — Potsdam Conference
Object Number
1967.59.655

Artwork Description

Johnson presented the image of three world leaders--U.S. President Harry Truman (center), Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin (right), and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (left) --joining hands in victory and standing on a Nazi flag. The three met in Potsdam, Germany, in July and early August 1945 to discuss the terms of the peace after Germany's surrender on May 8. When leaders of the three countries had met in Yalta the previous February, they began laying out terms of a postwar peace. But the cast of characters at Potsdam was new. Truman replaced Franklin Roosevelt, who had died in April, and Attlee replaced Churchill midway through the meeting when the results of his recent landslide victory were announced. But much was still at stake. Although Germany had surrendered, the conflict in Asia continued. Just days after the Potsdam meeting, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. After a second bomb decimated Nagasaki, the war in the Pacific ended.

Exhibitions

Media - 1983.95.53 - SAAM-1983.95.53_2 - 142417
Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice
October 13, 2023February 25, 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.