The Three Crosses


William Lester ( American, 1910 - 1991 )

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General Description

Like many artists working in the Southwest during the Dust Bowl years, Lester was profoundly affected by the destruction of arable lands. Three Crosses transmutes the sacrifice of the land into the story of the Passion of Christ, offering the hope of resurrection in the form of a living vine emerging from the ruined earth. Three crosses and the skull and crossbones allude to the New Testament narrative of the Crucifixion of Christ and the two thieves; however, the stark landscape is not Golgotha, the place of Christ’s execution, but is recognizably Texas. The painting thus becomes both a record of the hardship endured by the victims of drought and a testament to their enduring spirits.

Drawn from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, Label text, 2005.
  • DMA unpublished material.

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