George Biddle, In Memoriam: Sacco and Vanzetti
This lithograph is a symbolic meditation on sorrow and social injustice. In 1920, Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted of murdering a guard. Their case was appealed to no avail, and the two men were ultimately electrocuted in 1927. Convinced of the men’s innocence, socially conscious writers and artists across the United States protested on their behalf.
George Biddle’s lithograph depicts Sacco and Vanzetti lying in a shallow grave, wrapped in burial shrouds and posed in benediction. An imposing woman kneels over them, extending her arms and hands in grief. She mourns their false imprisonment and death, and the injustice of the US legal system. The stark contrast of black and white heightens the bleakness of the scene.