Jacob Lawrence
American, 1917–2000
The Wedding
1948

Egg tempera on hardboard
50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.), 78.7 x 88.9 cm (31 x 35 in.)
Restricted gift of Mary P. Hines in memory of her mother, Frances W. Pick, 1993.258

In The Wedding, a couple exchanges marriage vows before a minister as attendants stand nearby. The curving shapes of the figures, together with the brightly colored flowers and stained-glass windows, create a composition full of movement and energy.

Born in Atlantic City in 1917, Jacob Lawrence moved to New York's Harlem neighborhood in 1930. At age 15, he enrolled in the Harlem Art Workshop at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). A talented student, Lawrence rapidly developed a bold, unique style, which he applied to seldom-treated subjects from black history and contemporary life in Harlem. At the age of 20 he had his first one-man exhibition of Harlem scenes.

In addition to small genre scenes such as this one, Lawrence created epic cycles depicting moments in African American history, including the Great Migration and episodes in the lives of abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. Later in his career, Lawrence moved from the east coast to Seattle, where he taught at the University of Washington.