See more objects with the tag literature, book cover.

Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

1942

  • Work on this object began.

2020

2021

Book, Native Son

This is a Book. It was designed by E. McKnight Kauffer and published by Modern Library. It is dated 1942. Its medium is lithograph. It is a part of the department.


Richard Wright’s novel follows a young African American man caught in a deadly downward spiral in 1930s Chicago. Rather than interpreting a scene from Native Son for the cover, Kauffer copied his unpublished illustration for the final scene of Carl Van Vechten’s 1926 novel. The image he repurposed shows an African American man undone by murder. Kauffer rendered a faceless figure slumped over a chair, placing a brick—a murder weapon—at the character’s knees.

It is credited Private collection, New York.

Its dimensions are

18.3 × 12.5 cm (7 3/16 × 4 15/16 in.)

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318805226/ |title=Book, Native Son |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 December 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>