'Panel 16' Of Lawrence's 'Struggle: From The History Of The American People' Found After Museum Visitor Recognized Artwork

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A long-lost painting by the late acclaimed artist Jacob Lawrence is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Missing for 60 years, it was hiding in plain sight.

Renowned artist Faith Ringgold’s face lit up as she talked about her idol Jacob Lawrence and the first time they met.

“I said, ‘Oh, I love your work,'” Ringgold said. “And he said, ‘And I love yours,’ and I almost fainted. ‘You know my work?'”

The American painter who captured African-American history as a Black artist inspired the now 90-year-old woman decades ago.

“I found in him the image of what I thought an artist could and should be doing, especially at that time,” Ringgold told CBS2’s Cory James.

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So when Ringgold learned a missing piece of Lawrence’s “Struggle: From the History of the American People” was found, she was overjoyed.

“He would absolutely be very, very happy, and I am too,” she said.

Jacob Lawrence’s “Struggle: From The History Of The American People” is on display at the Met through Nov. 1, 2020. (Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art says a visitor who was touring Lawrence’s exhibition realized some of the artwork on display resembled a piece inside her Upper West Side neighbor’s apartment.

“The fact that a museum visitor found this, took the initiative to raise this with a friend, a neighbor, and they were excited enough to really want to bring it together,” Met Museum American Wing curator Sylvia Yount said.

Art collector E.T. Williams personally knew Lawrence and was also fascinated by his work, paintings he says former First Lady Laura Bush made it a point to showcase in the White House.

“It is my understanding that the White House paid about $2.2, $2.5 million for the paintings,” Williams said.

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Now Panel 16 of the series has made its way back to Lawrence’s story of American history.

Ringgold says she is going to be able to say, “I was there to see it.”

The exhibit wraps up at the Met on Nov. 1. The owner of the missing panel has agreed to loan the artwork for the rest of the tour, which is expected to end in December 2021.

For more information on the exhibit, visit metmuseum.org.

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