Horace Pippin took up painting in part to overcome the trauma he endured while serving in France during World War I. As a member of the all-black 369th Infantry, Pippin fought with valor, but sustained a gunshot wound that rendered useless his right shoulder and arm. Upon returning to the United States, he was unable to perform the manual labor that had supported him before the war. It was then that he turned to painting. Although his first works concerned the experience of trench warfare, he soon embraced other subjects, including his imaginings of African American life in the South and portraits of historic figures such as Abraham Lincoln and John Brown. By 1937 Pippin had begun to sell his paintings locally. Having caught the attention of several prominent collectors and curators, his work was later featured in various exhibitions and publications.