Object Image

Study for Aspects of Negro Life: An Idyll of the Deep South

Aaron Douglas painted this small opaque watercolor in preparation for his mural An Idyll of the Deep South, part of Aspects of Negro Life, commissioned in 1934 by the Works Progress Administration for the Harlem Branch of the New York City Public Library.

Here, Douglas shows Black Americans rising up from slavery with exuberant song and dance and in struggle against back-breaking work and the rise of brutal lynchings. The violent injustices in the South after Reconstruction (1865–1877) led to the Great Migration, when about six million Black Americans migrated north and west in an effort to escape racial violence and disparities that plagued the nation.

Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson...

Opaque watercolor over graphite on board
10.0 x 24.4in
Text © The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2020

Where you'll find this

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Permanent collection