Jacob Lawrence was an American painter. He moved with his family at 13 to New York City's Harlem. Art classes sponsored by the Works Progress Administration in 1932 developed his talent.
His works portray scenes of African American life and history with vivid, stylized realism. Gouache and tempera were Lawrence's characteristic media. His use of sombre browns and black for shadows and outlines in an otherwise vibrant palette lent his work a distinctive overtone. His best-known works are his series on historical and social themes, such as Life in Harlem (1942) and War (1947). His later works include a powerful series on the struggles of desegregation. From 1971 he taught at the University of Washington.