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Jacob Lawrence American

Not on view

When General George Washington failed to recapture Philadelphia from the British in 1777, he led the Continental army in retreat to an encampment in Valley Forge, northwest of the city. In this panel, Lawrence explores the toll that these military setbacks and the brutal winter took upon the American troops during their six-month stay. The bandaged and bloodied figures in the background--framed by the discarded bayonets--turn away from the symbol of their violent defeat, a valuable warhorse, respectfully covered as its lifeblood slips away. In its emphatic finality, Lawrence's one-word title reinforces this low point in the war.

Defeat, Jacob Lawrence (American, Atlantic City, New Jersey 1917–2000 Seattle, Washington), Egg tempera on hardboard

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Photography by Bob Packert/PEM