This is one of thirty paintings Lawrence created between 1942 and 1943 on the theme of everyday life in Harlem. The scene is filled with swirling urban activity: an itinerant photographer, located by the jagged flash of the camera, snaps a portrait of a well-dressed family, a construction worker descends into a manhole, a finely dressed businessman with a briefcase hurries to work, and a horse-drawn cart bearing a bed frame progresses down the street. The range of activity here hints at the broader movements of African Americans in this moment, as the Great Migration brought many to cities in the North.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right) J. LAWRENCE 42
the artist (on consignment to Downtown Galleries, New York, 1942–at least 1946; sold by Downtown Gallery to Shahn); Ben Shahn, New York; his daughter, Abby Shahn (by 1992–2001; sold through D. C. Moore Gallery, New York to MMA)
Museum of Modern Art, New York circulating exhibition. "Twelve Contemporary Painters," February 1944–May 1945, no catalogue.
Katonah, N. Y. Katonah Museum of Art. "Jacob Lawrence: The Early Decades, 1935–1950," March 1–April 19, 1992, unnum. brochure (as "Photographer," lent by Abby Shahn).
New York. Midtown Payson Galleries, Inc. "Jacob Lawrence, an Overview: Paintings from 1936–1994," January 12–February 25, 1995, unnumbered cat. (p. 2; lent by a private collection).
New York. D. C. Moore Gallery. "Jacob Lawrence: Memorial Exhibition," February 6–March 3, 2001, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "African-American Artists, 1929–1945: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 15–May 4, 2003, extended to July 6, 2003, no. 18.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Street," March 5–May 27, 2013, no catalogue.
Leslie King-Hammond. Jacob Lawrence. An Overview: Paintings from 1936–1994. Exh. cat., Midtown Payson Galleries. New York, 1995, pp. 4, 25, ill. p. 2 (color).
Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois. Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935–1999). A Catalogue Raisonné. Seattle, 2000, p. 66, no. P42-12, ill. (color), list the alternate title "Street Photographer"; locate it in the collection of Ms. Abby Shahn.
Lisa M. Messinger in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2000–2001." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 59 (Fall 2001), pp. 62–63, ill. (color).