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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Becker, Frederick G.
Culture:American (1913-2004)
Title:Birth of John Henry from the John Henry Suite
Date Made:1935-1939
Materials:wood engraving
Measurements:Mat: 14 in x 11 in; 35.6 cm x 27.9 cm; Sheet: 11 1/4 in x 8 7/8 in; 28.6 cm x 22.5 cm; image: 6 in x 4 1/2 in; 15.2 cm x 11.4 cm
Narrative Inscription:  SIGNATURE: recto, lwr. r. (graphite): Fred Becker ; SIGNATURE: recto, lwr. l. (engraved in wood block): Becker ; TITLE: recto, lwr. ctr. (graphite): “BIRTH OF JOHN HENRY” ; INSCRIPTION: verso, lwr r. (stamp in black ink): FEDERAL ART PROJECT/NYC WPA
Accession Number:  UM 1974.38.135
Credit Line:Gift of Frederick G. Becker to the W.P.A. Collection

Highly stylized black and white depiction of a river flowing from a large toothy mouth. Within the turbulent water John Henry's head, arms, torso and one leg reach out of the water as the figure's muscles, arms and leg seem to grow and unfurl as he emerges. A paddle-wheel boat is also tossed among the waves. Vegetation and a night sky with stars, moon and lightning acentuate the background at the upper left.

Label Text:
From the John Henry Suite.. WPA Collection.

African American; folklore; water; supernatural

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2 Related Media Items

UM-Fred_Becker- SW_Hayter-letter.pdf
UM-Fred_Becker- SW_Hayter-letter.pdf
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