Apr 22, 2013

The White Hope

The White Hope


George Bellows

(American, 1882–1925)


Image: 37.2 x 48 cm (14 5/8 x 18 7/8 in.)

Gift of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1936.644

Catalogue raisonné: Mason 96



After Jack Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight champion in 1908, a series of boxing promoters searched for a “Great White Hope” who could dethrone him. Analyzing the facial features of the two fighters in this print, some scholars believe its subject commemorates Johnson’s victory over former champion James J. Jeffries in 1910. The outcome of this proclaimed “fight of the century” sparked racially motivated riots in more than 50 cities across 25 states, leaving 20 people dead. Whether or not The White Hope can be associated with a specific bout, Bellows’s image undercuts notions of white racial superiority with bitter irony.

See also
PR - Lithograph
Type of artwork: 

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