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Rabbit

ca. 1940 William Edmondson Born: Nashville, Tennessee 1874 Died: Nashville, Tennessee 1951 carved limestone 12 5/8 x 5 x 8 in. (32.0 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.241 Not currently on view


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William Edmondson drew inspiration from daily life, religion, and African American folklore in creating his limestone figures. In many parts of Africa, the rabbit appears in folklore as the quintessential trickster, a character that relies on intelligence and wits to overcome adversity. For enslaved Africans in the United States, these traditional stories kept them connected and gave them hope. The tales of Br'er Rabbit were especially powerful, and Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps once called Br'er Rabbit the "adopted hero of the American Negro slave." Edmondson's parents were both former slaves, and the artist likely grew up hearing tales devised to teach children how to think, behave, and survive. He carved numerous variations of the rabbit, more than any other animal figure.

Keywords

Animal - rabbit

sculpture

folk art

stone - limestone

About William Edmondson

Born: Nashville, Tennessee 1874 Died: Nashville, Tennessee 1951

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