• Josephus Farmer, Samson, 1982, carved and painted redwood relief with rhinestones, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.242

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Josephus Farmer was a devout Apostolic Christian who often used biblical stories to encourage people to repent. This painting illustrates scenes from the Old Testament, including the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson was born to defend Israel against the Philistines, but was betrayed by his young wife. The image of Samson battling with a lion emphasizes his power, as described in Judges 14: “. . . he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat.” When Delilah learned that his long hair was the origin of his strength, she betrayed him to Philistine soldiers, who cut his locks. The next image shows him pointing to his hair with his devious wife looking over his shoulder. Farmer combined these images with many others, including scenes of Adam and Eve before and after the temptation. He crammed as many stories as possible onto one piece of wood to persuade people of the importance of his messages.

Not on view
27 3/8 x 27 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (69.6 x 70.5 x 3.9 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums Description
carved and painted redwood relief with rhinestones
  • Religion – Old Testament – Samson
  • Religion – Old Testament – Delilah
  • Religion – Old Testament – Adam
  • Emblem – cross
  • Religion – Old Testament – Jeremiah
  • Animal – lion
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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