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Victory and Defeat

Jacob Lawrence American

Not on view

In this striking panel, Lawrence depicts an impenetrable wall of twenty-two black cannonballs to symbolize the successful twenty-two-day siege at Yorktown, Virginia, in which American troops forced the British occupying the town to surrender. This battle, celebrated for the heroic leadership of Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette, effectively ended the American Revolution. Lawrence’s wall also serves as a backdrop for the sword exchange that took place between two appointed delegates on behalf of American General George Washington and British General Charles Cornwallis, on October 19, 1781. The artist focused on this imminent transfer of power and peaceful resolution by creating a space between the redcoat gripping his sword and the open hand of an unseen patriot, framed against a cloud-filled sky symbolizing a hopeful future.

Victory and 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