Apr 19, 2013

The Law is too Slow

The Law is too Slow


George Bellows

(American, 1882–1925)


Gift of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1936.588

Catalogue raisonné: Mason 147



Bellows made this lithograph to illustrate "Nemesis," a fictitious anti-lynching story written by Mary Johnston and published in Century Magazine in May 1923. In the story, a Black man is accused of attacking and killing a white woman; he is then lynched by a mob of white men, all of whom subsequently fall upon misfortune themselves. Bellows portrays the gruesome lynching by highlighting the Black man's strong, illuminated body and surrounding it with an unfeeling mob of white men, some of whom watch as if at a sporting event. The glow of the fire highlights the lynched man's physical as well as internal strength, and visual resonances with Catholic imagery of deaths of saints imply the man's martyrdom. The title of the print may refer both to a twisted justification for lynching cited by racists during the Jim Crow era, as well as to the United States Congress's failure to pass anti-lynching laws.

See also
PR - Lithograph
Type of artwork: 

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