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Robert W. Wilson Galleries
Paul Cadmus (1904-1999)
To the Lynching!
Graphite pencil and watercolor on paper
Sheet (Irregular): 23 1/2 × 18 in. (59.7 × 45.7 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Paul Cadmus made this pencil and watercolor sketch, To the Lynching! as an entry for An Art Commentary on Lynching, an anti-lynching exhibition organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New York in 1935. A graphic and explicitly political image, it places the viewer at the center of a lynch mob, replete with a rearing horse whose movements suggest an analogy with the human tormentors’ bestial violence. Three aggressors beat and claw a prone black man, whose torso and face stream blood. This was not Cadmus’s first work to take on controversial political and social issues. In 1934, federal officials removed one of his paintings from view at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., on account of its satirical, unsavory depiction of cavorting Navy sailors. In To the Lynching! Cadmus asserts his opinions once again, creating an image that bluntly questions authority and offers a scathing critique of lynching.