Ralph Fasanella

Lawrence 1912—The Bread and Roses Strike

Oil on Canvas, 1977

Throughout Lawrence 1912—The Bread and Roses Strike, strikers confront militia and police in skirmishes that communicate Fasanella’s thematic message of organized resistance. A cutaway view of the City Hall courtroom along Common Street reveals the trial of strike leaders Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti, who were charged as accessories to murder and later acquitted. Out in the streets, strikers confront militia and police with signs proclaiming support for the strike.

The most important and prominent images in this painting are at the bottom center, where a militiaman on a horse tramples a child, and at the upper right, where Fasanella depicts a mill worker crucified against a smokestack and entwined in cotton threads. Through the latter image the spirit of Fasanella’s father, the crucified iceman in his earlier paintings, appears here to sanctify the struggle of the Lawrence mill workers. The crucified worker, head bowed, seems to gaze directly upon the trampled child below.