The face of America in the 1930s wasn’t the confident visage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but a woman named Florence Owens Thompson. She was a Cherokee — observe the cheekbones. On her tombstone is engraved “Migrant Mother — A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood.”
But in Dorothea Lange’s epic photograph, which is the Norton Museum’s Masterpiece of the Month for July, she doesn’t look strong. She looks played out and at her wit’s end. That’s because Florence Thompson was played out and at her wit’s end. When Lange came upon Thompson and her children at a migrant camp full of pea pickers in Nipomo, Calif., in 1936, she had just sold the tires off her car to buy food.
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‘Masterpiece of the Month’
The Norton Museum of Art is spotlighting major works by iconic artists in this series. Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” is on display until July 28. Salvador Dali’s “Portrait of Marquis George de Cuevas” is the August masterpiece.
Norton Museum of Art: 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, go to norton.org.
Each exceptional work being showcased has been selected from a private collection by a Norton curator. These pieces have rarely been exhibited publicly. A series of curator-led gallery talks accompanies the monthly installations to explore the significance and context of each work.