de Young & Legion of Honor ART on Demand

William Keane

Old Banjo, ca. 1889

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About the Artwork

William Keane, The Old Banjo, ca. 1889
Oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 24 7/8 in. (101.3 x 63.2 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, The Sidney M. and Florence H. Ehrman Fund, T.B. Walker Fund and the Huntington Trust Fund, 1969.2

As early as the 1740s, Africans kidnapped into the slave trade brought with them the banjer, a fretless gourd instrument used to accompany singers, which later evolved into the banjo. Often played in defiance of a racist system designed to suppress enslaved people’s humanity and creativity, the instrument came to symbolize cultural resistance and perseverance. With its distinctive sound and style, the banjo provided a framework for a musical tradition that preceded ragtime, jazz, and blues—all innovations by Black musicians—and established the foundations of modern American music. Keane’s banjo is surrounded by personal effects: sheet music, a crumpled hat, a peacock feather, and a pair of photographs showing a young woman and two unidentified young Black boxers. The boxing image evokes the history of early Black boxing champions such as Jack Johnson (1878–1946), who challenged racism in American sports and paved the way for future athlete-activists.

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About Our Prints


de Young & Legion of Honor ART on Demand offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections and exhibitions of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Ordering & Return Policy

All ART on Demand items are custom-made for each order. Please allow 10-14 days for production time. You will receive shipping confimation and tracking upon shipment. Due to the custom nature of these items they are non-returnable.