The National Portrait Gallery is a historic art museum located between 7th, 9th, F, and G Streets NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Founded in 1962 and opened to the public in 1968, it is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections focus on images of famous Americans. The museum is housed in the historic Old Patent Office Building, as is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The two museums are the eponym for the Gallery Place Washington Metro station, located at the corner of F and 7th Streets NW.
|National Portrait Gallery|
National Portrait Gallery (United States) (the United States)
|Location||Eighth and F Streets, NW, Washington, D.C.|
|Director||Kim Sajet (2013–present)|
|Public transit access|| (Washington Metro) |
at Gallery Place – Chinatown
The first portrait gallery in the United States was Charles Willson Peale's "American Pantheon" (also known as "Peale's Collection of Portraits of American Patriots"), established in 1796. It closed after two years. In 1859, the National Portrait Gallery in London opened, but few Americans took notice. The idea of a federally owned national portrait gallery can be traced back to 1886, when Robert C. Winthrope, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, visited the National Portrait Gallery in London. Upon his return to the United States, Winthrope began pressing for the establishment of a similar museum in America.
In January 1919, the Smithsonian Institution entered into a cooperative endeavor with the American Federation of Arts and the American Mission to Negotiate Peace to create a National Art Committee. The committee's goal was to commission portraits of famous leaders from the various nations involved in World War I. Among the committee's members were oil company executive Herbert L. Pratt, Ethel Sperry Crocker (an art aficionado and wife of William Henry Crocker, founder of Crocker National Bank), architect Abram Garfield, Mary Williamson Averell (wife of railway executive E. H. Harriman), financier J. P. Morgan, attorney Charles Phelps Taft (brother of President William Howard Taft), steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, and paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott. The portraits commissioned went on display in the National Museum of Natural History in May 1921. This formed the nucleus of what would become the National Portrait Gallery Collection.
In 1937, Andrew W. Mellon donated his large collection of classic and modernist art to the United States, which led to the foundation of the National Gallery of Art. The collection included a large number of portraits. Mellon asked that, should a portrait gallery be created, the portraits be transferred to it. David E. Finley, Jr., an attorney and one of Mellon's closest friends, was named the first director of the National Gallery of Art, and he pushed hard over the next several years for the establishment of a portrait gallery.
In 1957, a proposal was made by the federal government to demolish the Old Patent Office Building. After a public outcry and an agreement to save the historic structure, Congress authorized the Smithsonian Institution to use the structure as a museum in March 1958. Shortly thereafter, the Smithsonian Art Commission asked the Chancellor of the Smithsonian to appoint a committee to organize a national portrait museum and to plan for the establishment of this museum in the Old Patent Office Building. This committee was created in 1960.
The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) was authorized and founded by Congress in 1962. The enabling legislation defined its purpose as displaying portraits of "men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the people of the United States." The legislation specified, however, that the museum's collection be limited to painting, prints, drawings, and engravings. Despite the Smithsonian's own extensive collection of art and Mellon's collection, there was very little for the National Portrait Gallery to display. "To found a portrait gallery in the 1960s," Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley said, was difficult because "American portraiture has already reached the zenith in price and the nadir in supply." Ripley, whose leadership of the Smithsonian began in 1964, was a strong supporter of the new museum, however. He encouraged the museum's curators to build a collection from scratch based on individual pieces chosen through high-quality scholarship rather than buying complete collections from others. The NPG's collection was slowly built over the next five years through donations and purchases. The museum had little money at this time. Often, it located items it wanted and then asked the owner to simply donate it.
The first NPG exhibit, "Nucleus for a National Collection," went on display in the Arts and Industries Building in 1965 (the bicentennial of James Smithson's birth). The following year, the NPG completed the Catalog of American Portraits, the first inventory of portraiture held by the Smithsonian. The catalog also documented the physical characteristics of each artwork, and its provenance (author, date, ownership, etc.). The museum moved into the Old Patent Office Building with the National Fine Arts Collection in 1966. It opened to the public on October 7, 1968.
The Old Patent Office Building was renovated in 1969 by the architectural firm of Faulkner, Fryer and Vanderpool. The renovation won the American Institute of Architects National Honor Award in 1970. The following year, the NPG began the National Portrait Survey, an attempt to catalog and photograph all portraits in all formats held by every public and private collection and museum in the country. On July 4, 1973, the NPG opened "The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution, 1770–1800," the first exhibit at the museum dedicated solely to African Americans. Philanthropist Paul Mellon donated 761 portraits by French-American engraver C.B.J.F. de Saint-Mémin to the museum in 1974.
Congress passed legislation in January 1976 allowing the National Portrait Gallery to collect portraits in media other than graphic arts. This permitted the NPG to begin collecting photographs. The Library of Congress had long opposed the move in order to protect its own role in collecting photographs, but NPG Director Marvin Sadik fought hard to have the ban eliminated. The NPG rapidly expanded its photography collection, and in October 1976 established a Department of Photographs. The gallery's first photography exhibit, "Facing the Light: Historic American Portrait Daguerreotypes," opened in September 1978. It also continued to build its other collections. In February 1977, the museum acquired an 1880 self-portrait by Mary Cassatt, one of only two painted by her. Eleven months later, the museum acquired a self-portrait by John Singleton Copley. The roundel (a circular canvas), one of only four self-portraits by the celebrated early American artist, was donated to the NPG by the Cafritz Foundation.
A major controversy occurred in 1979 over the National Portrait Gallery's attempt to buy two Gilbert Stuart paintings. The famous, unfinished portraits of George and Martha Washington were owned by the Boston Athenaeum, which loaned them to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1876. But the Athenaeum, a private collection, was suffering from financial difficulties by the late 1970s. It twice offered to sell the two portraits to the Museum of Fine Arts over the previous two years, but the museum declined to purchase them. The Athenaeum began searching for another buyer, and in early 1979 the Athenaeum tentatively reached an agreement to sell the works to the NPG for $5 million. When the Athenaeum made these discussions public in April 1979, there was strong public opposition to the sale in Boston. NPG director Marvin Sadik declined to cancel the sale, arguing that the portraits were of national historic value and belonged in the Smithsonian. A campaign by prominent Bostonians tried to raise $5 million to keep the portraits in Massachusetts. Boston Mayor Kevin H. White sued to keep the portraits in Boston, naming Massachusetts Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti (whom the state constitution designated "custodian of public property") in the suit. "Everybody knows Washington has no culture—they have to buy it," White said.
On April 12, the Athenaeum and NPG agreed to delay the sale until December 31, 1979, to give the Boston fund-raising effort a chance. Although not completely successful, the lawsuit had one effect: Attorney General Bellotti announced in mid-summer that the Stuart portraits could not be sold without his permission. By November 1979, the fund-raising campaign had netted only $885,631, with a pledge from the Museum of Fine Arts to match the amount if necessary. This left the campaign $4 million short of the purchase price. The Athenaeum refused to lower the price, describing the $5 million listing as a significant discount from the portraits' real value.
With public and political pressure on the Smithsonian to resolve the issue, the Museum of Fine Arts and NPG agreed on February 7, 1980, to jointly purchase the portraits. Under the agreement, the paintings would spend three years at the National Portrait Gallery (beginning in July 1980), and then three years in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts. Attorney General Bellotti approved the plan in March. Per the agreement, the portraits went on display in Washington on July 1, 1980.
NPG director Marvin Sadik, who had expressed his dissatisfaction over the Stuart painting controversy, took a six-month-long sabbatical in January 1981. He announced his retirement from the museum in July.
Even as the Stuarts controversy occupied the attention of the press, the National Portrait Gallery continued to expand its collection. In April 1979, it obtained five other portraits by Gilbert Stuart. These five paintings — of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Adams, and James Madison — were known as the Gibbs-Coolidge set. The portraits were donated by the Coolidge family of Boston (without controversy). In December, the museum obtained a bust of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull (which may have been sculpted from the portrait which was later used for the $10 bill) and a Gilbert Stuart portrait of Representative Fisher Ames from the Henry Cabot Lodge family in Massachusetts. The following April, Varina Webb Stewart and Joel A.H. Webb presented important portraits of Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina Howell Davis, to the National Portrait Gallery. (Stewart and Webb were the Davis' great-grandchildren.) In 1980, the museum obtained (through purchase and loan) a number of works by graphic artist Howard Chandler Christy for exhibit. Works displayed ranged from his "Christy girl" recruiting posters to history-based works such as Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States.
By 1981, the museum had more than 2,000 items in its collection. Two major 19th century photography collections were added by the museum that year. The first such acquisition was the Frederick Hill Meserve Collection of 5,419 glass negatives produced by the studio of famed Civil War photograph Mathew Brady and his assistants. Using historically accurate chemicals, paper, and techniques, prints were made of the negatives and the prints placed on rotating display. The Washington Post later described the importance of the acquisition by saying it made the NPG the "epicenter" for Brady scholarship. Later that year, 5,400 Civil War-era glass negatives produced by photographer Alexander Gardner were also purchased from the Meserve family. This included the famous "cracked-plate" portrait of Abraham Lincoln taken in February 1865, which was the last photographic portrait of Lincoln taken before his death in April 1865.
Two major portrait purchases were also made in the early 1980s. One was a Gilbert Stuart portrait of Thomas Jefferson, for which the museum paid $1 million to a private collector. A portion of the purchase price came from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Jefferson's historic plantation home of Monticello. The two parties agreed have the portrait spend time at both locations. The second major purchase was an Edgar Degas portrait of his friend, Mary Cassatt, for which the museum paid $1.3 million.
The museum suffered a major theft in 1984 — although it was not a portrait. On December 31, 1984, a thief pried open a display case and stole four handwritten documents accompanying several portraits of Civil War generals. One of the documents was written and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The remaining three were written and signed by Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant, George Meade, and George Armstrong Custer. The FBI was contacted and worked with Smithsonian police to investigate the crime. Within two weeks, a historic documents dealer contacted the FBI and said he had been offered the documents for sale. On February 8, 1985, police arrested Norman James Chandler, a part-time mechanic's assistant from Maryland, for the theft. Chandler quickly pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in April 1985 to two years in jail (with all but six months suspended) and two years of probation, and required to pay a $2,000 fine. All four documents were recovered.
The late 1980s saw the collection continue to expand, although there were fewer major additions. One significant acquisition was a nude image — a self-portrait painting by Alice Neel acquired in 1985. It was the National Portrait Gallery's first nude work. Neel was 80 years old when she painted it. Two years later, noted photographer Irving Penn donated 120 platinum prints of fashion and celebrity portraits he produced over the past 50 years.
Two very important daguerreotypes (an early photographic process) were purchased in the 1990s. The first was of African American abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, acquired in 1990. It is one of only four daguerreotypes of Douglass known to exist. That year, the number of images in the museum's photography collection reached 8,500 objects. Six years later, the NPG obtained for $115,000 the earliest known daguerreotype of abolitionist John Brown, whose 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry helped sparked the Civil War. The portrait was created by African American photographer Augustus Washington.
In the fall of 2000, Neil Primrose, 7th Earl of Rosebery, offered to sell Gilbert Stuart's Lansdowne portrait of George Washington to the National Portrait Gallery. The painting was commissioned in April 1796 by Senator William Bingham of Pennsylvania—one of the wealthiest men in America at the time. The 8 by 5 feet (2.4 by 1.5 m) portrait was given as a gift to British Prime Minister William Petty FitzMaurice. FitzMaurice was the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, and later became the first Marquess of Lansdowne (hence the name of the portrait). Lansdowne died in 1805, and in 1890 the painting was purchased by the 5th Earl of Rosebery. The Lansdowne portrait was displayed only three times in the United States (although several copies remained in America). On its third trip in 1968, it was exhibited by the National Portrait Gallery, and it remained there on indefinite loan. Lord Rosebery offered to sell the painting for $20 million, a price at the low end of estimates. But the offer came with a deadline of April 1, 2001. A search for a donor, personally led by Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small and the Smithsonian's Board of Regents, proved fruitless after three months. Worried Smithsonian officials then went public in February 2001 with a plea for a donor to come forth.
On March 13, just two weeks before the sale deadline, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation donated $30 million to buy the Lansdowne portrait. Foundation chairman Fred W. Smith read about failing donor effort in the Wall Street Journal on February 26. Although the Reynolds Foundation generally only made grants in the areas of elder care, cardiovascular research, and journalism, assisting with the Lansdowne purchase fell within the foundation's "special projects" area of responsibility. NPG Director Marc Pachter flew to Nevada to meet with foundation officials on March 3, and the foundation approved the donation the following day. The $30 million donation included $6 million to put the portrait on a national tour for three years (the NPG was closed for renovations until 2006), and $4 million to construct a new area in the Old Patent Office Building to display it. NPG said it would name this display area for Donald W. Reynolds, the media baron who created the foundation.
The National Portrait Gallery closed in January 2000 for a renovation of the Old Patent Office Building. Intended to take two years and cost $42 million, the renovation took seven years and cost $283 million. Inflation, delays in obtaining approval for the renovation design, the addition of a glass canopy over the open courtyard, and other issues led to increases in both time and costs. During this period, most of the NPG's collection went on tour around the United States.
In March 2007, a multi-year study of leadership at eight Smithsonian museums made recommendations about the National Portrait Gallery. The report concluded that the museum needed stronger, more visionary leadership intent on creating a truly national museum. The report also called for "administrative consolidation" of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
After the 2008 presidential election, the National Portrait Gallery obtained graphic artist Shepard Fairey's ubiquitous "Hope" poster of Barack Obama. Obama supporter Tony Podesta and his wife, Heather, donated it to the museum.
In November 2010, the National Portrait Gallery hosted a major new exhibit, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture". The exhibit focused on depictions of homosexual love through history, and was the first exhibit hosted by a museum of national stature to address the topic. It was also the largest and most expensive exhibit in the NPG's history, and more private donors contributed to it than to any prior NPG exhibit. Included in the 105 pieces in the exhibit was a four-minute, edited version of artist David Wojnarowicz's short silent film A Fire in My Belly. Eleven seconds of the video depicted a crucifix covered in ants.
The exhibit was scheduled to run from October 30, 2010, to February 13, 2011. Within days of its opening, Catholic League president William A. Donohue labeled Fire in My Belly "hate speech," anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian. A spokesperson for Representative John Boehner, incoming Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, called it an "arrogant" abuse of the public trust and a misuse of taxpayer money, although it was funded by private donations. House Majority Leader Representative Eric Cantor threatened to reduce the Smithsonian's budget if the film remained on view. After consulting with National Portrait Gallery director Martin Sullivan, co-curator David C. Ward (but not with co-curator Jonathan David Katz), Smithsonian Undersecretary Richard Kurin, and the Smithsonian's government affairs and public relations offices, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough ordered Fire in My Belly removed from the exhibit on November 30.
Clough's decision led to extensive accusations of censorship and claims that the Smithsonian was caving in to pressure from a small group of vocal activists. Smithsonian officials strongly defended the video's removal. "The decision wasn't caving in," said Sullivan. "We don't want to shy away from anything that is controversial, but we want to focus on the museum's and this show's strengths." Kurin expressed the Smithsonian's desire to be responsive to public opinion, but also emphasized the remaining exhibit's importance. "We are sensitive to what the public thinks about our shows and programs," he said. "We stand behind the show. It has strong scholarship with great pieces by artists who are recognized by a whole panoply of experts. It represents a segment of America." On December 13, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, one of the principal sponsors of the exhibit, said it would ask for its $100,000 donation back if the film was not restored. Clough replied, "...the Smithsonian's decision to remove the video was a difficult one and we stand by it." The donation was returned, and the Warhol Foundation ceased to support National Portrait Gallery exhibits. The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which donated $10,000 to support the exhibit, also ended all funding for future Smithsonian exhibitions. Both decisions drew criticism from some gay rights supporters, who felt the funding cuts were too draconian in view of the fact that the remainder of the pieces continued to be exhibited.
The controversy lasted through the exhibit's scheduled run. In late January 2011, the Smithsonian Board of Regents unanimously gave Clough a vote of confidence, saying his accomplishments in improving the Smithsonian's administration, finances, governance, and maintenance in the past 19 months far outweighed the damage done by the "Hide/Seek" controversy. Clough admitted, however, that he may have acted too hastily in the matter (although he continued to say he made the right decision), and the regents asked for Smithsonian staff to study the controversy and report back on how to handle such events in the future. Not everyone in the Smithsonian agreed with the regents. The Washington Post reported that some (unnamed) Smithsonian museum directors and curators felt there would be a "chilling effect" from Clough's decision. The Board of Directors of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden wrote an open letter to Clough in which they said they were "deeply troubled by the precedent" to remove the film.
In 2006, the museum began hosting a triennial, juried contemporary portrait exhibition called the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Named after long time docent and volunteer Virginia Outwin Boochever, this competition is widely regarded as the most prestigious portrait competition in the United States. Artists working in the fields of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and other media are allowed to enter. Works must be created through a face-to-face encounter with the subject. The inaugural competition in 2006 drew more than 4000 entries, from which 51 finalists were chosen. For the 2013 competition the total prize money of $42,000 was awarded to the top eight commended artists, and the winner received $25,000 and a commission to make a portrait for the museum’s permanent collection. The subject of the commission is decided jointly by the artist and the NPG curators. The 2006 winner was David Lenz of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he was commissioned to paint a portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. It was the first portrait commissioned of an individual who has not served as a President or First Lady. The 2009 winner, Dave Woody of Fort Collins, Colorado, was commissioned to photograph food pioneer Alice Waters, founder of the Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe, the Edible Schoolyard and champion of the Slow Food movement. The 2013 winner was Bo Gehring of Beacon, New York, who was commissioned to direct a video portrait of jazz musician Esperanza Spalding.
In 2012, the National Portrait Gallery sponsored a new temporary exhibit, "Poetic Likeness: Modern American Poets," which focused on images of great American poets. The NPG collection had grown so large that the exhibit drew its images almost entirely from the museum's own collection.
As of 2011, the National Portrait Gallery was the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to portraiture. The museum had 65 employees and a $9 million annual budget in 2013. By February 2013, it housed 21,200 works of art, which had been seen by 1,069,932 visitors in 2012.
By 1977, the National Portrait Gallery had three curatorial divisions: Painting and sculpture, prints and drawings, and photography.
Initially, the National Portrait Gallery had fairly strict rules regarding which images could enter its collection. The person depicted had to be historically significant. An individual also needed to be dead at least 10 years before their portrait could be displayed (although some images of obviously important living people were acquired while they still lived). After an initial affirmative determination by curators at a monthly curatorial meeting, the National Portrait Gallery Commission (the museum's board of directors) approved the person's inclusion. The commission was initially quite conservative in its assessment of "historically significant," although this began to be relaxed in 1969. As of 2006, the definition of "historically significant" had become quite loose, although "some kind of fame or notoriety remains a prerequisite". Portraits of living individuals or those dead less than 10 years are also now allowed to be displayed in the museum, so long as their inclusion is clearly important (such as presidents or generals).
The process for choosing which images the museum acquires is simple but can be contentious. Potential acquisitions are vigorously and informally discussed at length by researchers, historians, and the curatorial departments. Some of the criteria used in the decision-making process are: The number of existing portraits of the individual already in the collection, the quality of the potential portrait, the uniqueness of the potential portrait, the reputation of the portrait's author, and the cost of the portrait. Formal decisions to acquire a portrait are made at monthly curatorial meetings, then ratified by the National Portrait Gallery Commission.
A hallmark of the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection is the Hall of Presidents, which contains portraits of nearly all American presidents. It is the largest and most complete collection in the world, except for the White House collection itself. The centerpiece of the Hall of Presidents is the famous Lansdowne portrait of George Washington. How the museum obtains presidential images has changed over the years. Presidential portraits from 1962 to 1987 were usually obtained through purchase or donation. Beginning in 1998, NPG began commissioning portraits of presidents, starting with George H. W. Bush. In 2000, NPG began commissioning portraits of First Ladies as well, beginning with Hillary Clinton. Funds for these commissions are privately raised, and each portrait costs about $150,000 to $200,000.
The National Portrait Gallery occupies a portion of the Old Patent Office Building, a National Historic Landmark. The building is located just south of Chinatown in downtown Washington. Constructed between 1836 and 1867, the building has a sandstone and marble façade, and porticoes modeled after the Parthenon.
The building was used as a hospital during the American Civil War, and both Clara Barton and Walt Whitman worked as nurses there. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the General Land Office, and the Bureau of Pensions jointly occupied the building with the Patent Office through the Civil War and into the post-war period. The massive increase in pension processing required by the Civil War led to the construction of a new Pension Bureau Building into which the Bureau of Pensions moved in 1887. The General Land Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs vacated the building in 1898. The United States Civil Service Commission and the Government Accounting Office occupied the building after the Patent Office vacated it in 1932. The Government Accounting Office vacated the structure in 1942, after its new headquarters nearby was complete. The Civil Service Commission began constructing its own headquarters, and planned to vacate the building in 1962.
Local D.C. businessmen asked the General Services Administration (GSA) to tear down the building and sell the land so a private parking garage could be built on the centrally located site. Legislation for this purpose was introduced in Congress in the waning days of the 82nd United States Congress in 1952, but did not pass. The legislation encountered resistance from a few members of Congress, architects, and the influential Committee of 100 on the Federal City (a private business group dedicated to promoting the D.C. economy). GSA reversed course, and said in June 1956 it no longer wanted to demolish the building. However, the agency said it would continue to use it for federal office space (which was in short supply) until the Civil Service Commission vacated the structure. On March 21, 1958, Congress unanimously passed legislation authorizing the transfer of the building to the Smithsonian for a national art museum. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation a few days later.
Congress passed legislation establishing the National Portrait Gallery in 1962, and the Civil Service Commission moved out of the structure in November 1963. Preparations for the renovation began in November 1964, and the Grunley, Walsh Construction Co. began demolition of non-historic interior structures by May 1965. The $6 million renovation was complete by April 1968, and the National Portrait Gallery opened on October 7.
In 1995, the Smithsonian revealed that the Old Patent Office Building was in serious disrepair. The Smithsonian announced in January 1997 that the building would close in January 2000 for a two-year, $42 million renovation. Hartman-Cox Architects was hired to oversee the conservation and repair. But just three years later, as the renovation was about to begin, the cost of repairs had risen to $110 million to $120 million.
Prior to the building's closure in January 2000, a decision was reached to allot about one-third of the building's total space to the National Portrait Gallery while simultaneously eliminating the informal north-south division between the NPG and American Art Museum. This led to acrimony between the two museums, and a public debate about which collection deserved more space. The Smithsonian resolved the dispute practically: Art that best fit an exhibition space got it. (For example, since modern art often tends toward large canvases, this art is on the high-ceilinged third floor.)
The cost of the renovation rose to $180 million by March 2001. That month, Nan Tucker McEvoy (a California newspaper heiress and arts patron) donated $10 million for the renovation. The Henry Luce Foundation gave another $10 million later that year. Costs continued to rise. Although Congress appropriated $33.5 million for the renovation, reconstruction costs were estimated at $214 million in June 2001 and the museum not scheduled to reopen until 2005. Just a month later, the reopening was pushed back even further to July 2006.
In 2003, the government increased its contribution to $166 million. Smithsonian officials subsequently began discussing a major change to the renovation design: Adding a glass roof to the open courtyard in the center of the Old Patent Office Building. Congress approved the change in August 2003. In March 2004, the Smithsonian announced that architect Norman Foster, would design the glass canopy. In November, Robert Kogod (a real estate development executive) and his wife, Arlene (heiress to Charles E. Smith Construction fortune) donated $25 million to complete the canopy. By then, costs had risen to $298 million. $60 million in private funds still needed to be raised.
Design approval for the canopy proved difficult. The design had to be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), which has statutory authority to approve all buildings and renovations in the D.C. metropolitan area. Although the NCPC approved the preliminary design, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the United States Department of the Interior, the D.C. State Preservation Office, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation all opposed the enclosure of the courtyard. The NCPC reversed its preliminary approval on June 2, 2005. Unwilling to lose the canopy, the Smithsonian brought five alternatives to the NCPC on August 4. On September 8, 2005, the NCPC reversed itself yet again, and approved one of the revised designs. The delay cost the Smithsonian $10 million. In October 2005, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation made a $45 million donation to the NPG to finish both the building renovation and the canopy. The Smithsonian agreed to call the two museums, the conservation center, courtyard, storage facility, and other operations within the Old Patent Office complex the "Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture" in appreciation for the gift. The National Portrait Gallery reopened on July 1, 2006. The total cost of the building's renovation was $283 million.
Attendance at the renovated building rose significantly to 214,495 in just two months. In the past, both museums had drawn just 450,000 over 12 months. The achievement was even more impressive in the face of flat or declining attendance at all other Smithsonian museums. The higher attendance was not all positive. Some patrons spit on art they did not like, while others kissed or touched some paintings. Video security cameras were hastily installed in September 2007 to stop the vandalism. By the end of the year, more than 786,000 people had visited the two museums.
The National Portrait Gallery is governed by a board of directors known as the National Portrait Gallery Commission. The commission members are appointed by the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum is led by a Director, who oversees its day-to-day activities. Directors of the museum include:
The Barack Obama "Hope" poster is an image of Barack Obama designed by artist Shepard Fairey, which was widely described as iconic and came to represent his 2008 presidential campaign. It consists of a stylized stencil portrait of Obama in solid red, beige and (light and dark) blue, with the word "progress", "hope" or "change" below (and other words in some versions).
The design was created in one day and printed first as a street poster. When the Obey Giant team found out the poster they had made were being sold on eBay for profit they issued a poster set that would be sold and all profits would go to the Obama campaign. Fairey sold 290 of the posters on the street immediately after printing them. It was then more widely distributed—both as a digital image and other paraphernalia—during the 2008 election season, initially independently but with the approval of the official Obama campaign. The image became one of the most widely recognized symbols of Obama's campaign message, spawning many variations and imitations, including some commissioned by the Obama campaign. This led The Guardian's Laura Barton to proclaim that the image "acquired the kind of instant recognition of Jim Fitzpatrick's Che Guevara poster, and is surely set to grace T-shirts, coffee mugs and the walls of student bedrooms in the years to come."In January 2009, after Obama had won the election, Fairey's mixed-media stenciled portrait version of the image was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for its National Portrait Gallery. Later in January 2009, the photograph on which Fairey based the poster was revealed: a June 2006 shot by former Associated Press freelance photographer Mannie Garcia. In response to claims by the Associated Press for compensation, Fairey sued for a declaratory judgment that his poster was a fair use of the original photograph. The parties settled out of court in January 2011, with details of the settlement remaining confidential.
On February 29, 2012, Fairey pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to destroying and fabricating documents during his legal battle with the Associated Press. Fairey had sued the news service in 2008 after it claimed that the famous poster was based on one of its photos. Fairey claimed that he used a different photograph for the poster. But he admitted that, in fact, he was wrong and tried to hide the error by destroying documents and manufacturing others, which is the source of the one count of criminal contempt to which he pleaded guilty. In September, Fairey was sentenced to two years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and a fine of $25,000.In 2009 Fairey's Obama portrait was featured in the book Art For Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change which Fairey also edited.In an interview with Esquire in 2015 Fairey said that Obama had not lived up, "not even close," to his expectations. He continued, "Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he's compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he'd support]."Birgitta Moran Farmer
Birgitta Moran Farmer (1881–1939) was an American artist particularly known for her portrait miniatures.Dan Winters
Dan Winters (born October 21, 1962) is an American portrait photographer, illustrator, filmmaker and writer.First Lady Michelle Obama (painting)
First Lady Michelle Obama is a 2018 portrait of Michelle Obama by the artist Amy Sherald for the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.
Obama selected the artist, as well as the dress by the brand Milly by fashion designer Michelle Smith. Obama's face is stylized in shades of gray, a key theme in works by Sherald, and the background is a simple blue evoking American folk art. Rather than focusing on an individualized glamor, the dress dominates the work as a mountain-like triangle. The dress is a variation on a halter gown from the Spring 2017 collection, with a modern geometric pattern that the Sherald said reminded her of the works of 20th century Dutch painter Mondrian and the African-American quilting tradition of Gee's Bend, Alabama.Together with Kehinde Wiley's portrait of her husband Barack Obama, the paintings were first exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery on February 12, 2018. The unveiling led to thousands of visitors lined up at the entrance, along with a 311 percent increase in visitors compared with the prior President's Day Weekend.Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg by Joseph Wright
Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg is a 1790 portrait by Joseph Wright, now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. It depicts Muhlenberg in his position as the first Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.Gene Zesch
Gene Zesch is an American sculptor, who gained national recognition in the 1960s when prominent figures such as Lyndon B. Johnson and John Connally started collecting his woodcarvings. Born in 1932, he grew up on a Texas ranch in Mason County and also ranched in Durango, Mexico.
Mr. Zesch started working as an artist in 1954 and has made a living out of carving caricature figurines of Texas cowboys and cattlemen. The characteristic expression of the subjects of his work is an eyed rolling resignation. He still lives in Mason County on his family ranch. He hand paints bronze castings of his more notable carvings and sells signed prints of photos of his work. Mr. Zesch's work has been featured in one-man shows at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (2005), the Institute of Texan Cultures (1988), the Witte Museum (1967), and the Forsyth Gallery at his alma mater, Texas A&M University (1997). His work has also been displayed in special exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery (United States) (1993), the Museum of Western Art (2004), and HemisFair '68 (1968).Henry Inman (painter)
Henry Inman (October 20, 1801 – January 17, 1846) was an American portrait, genre, and landscape painter.Herblock
Herbert Lawrence Block, commonly known as Herblock (October 13, 1909 – October 7, 2001), was an American editorial cartoonist and author best known for his commentaries on national domestic and foreign policy. Many of his cartoons had the unique property of being drawn "above" a collection of straight lines that formed a three-dimensional rectangle, making it appear as if the cartoon was created on the upper surface of a "block" of solid material.
During the course of a career stretching into nine decades, he won three Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning (1942, 1954, 1979), shared a fourth Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for Public Service on Watergate, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994), the National Cartoonist Society Editorial Cartoon Award in 1957 and 1960, the Reuben Award in 1956, the Gold Key Award (the National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame) in 1979, and numerous other honors.John Delaware Lewis
John Delaware Lewis (1828 – 31 July 1884) was an English Liberal Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1868 to 1874.
Lewis was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the only son of an American merchant, John D. Lewis (1774-1841), and his wife Eliza Emma Clewlow (c1797-1829). She was daughter of James Hamilton Clewlow R.N, who was a purser and later secretary to Sir Samuel Hood. Lewis's father was one of the most successful merchants in St Petersburg, where he was based for about 30 years, trading in sugar, coffee, rice, cigars, duck, hemp, quills, oil and bale rope. He made various trips to Britain and died at his residence in Cornwall Terrace, Regent's Park, on the 17 May 1841.Lewis lost his mother in the year following his birth in 1829; she died after giving birth to a daughter, Amy Eliza. His father died when he was twelve, and being so young there was no opportunity for him to become involved with the family mercantile business, which was taken over by the company secretary, Abraham van Sassen.Lewis was educated at Eton College and at Trinity College, Cambridge graduating BA in 1850 and MA in 1853, was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1858 and went on the south-eastern circuit. He was a J.P. for Devon and Hampshire, and an officer in the Royal Pembroke Artillery Militia. He spent much time at Arcachon in France and was author of Sketches of Cantabs, Across the Atlantic, Causes Célèbres, and various other works in English and French.At the 1868 general election Lewis was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Devonport. He held the seat until his defeat at the 1874 general election, and unsuccessfully contested the seat again in 1880.He married in 1868, Teresa Jervoise, daughter of Sir Jervoise Clarke-Jervoise, 2nd Baronet MP for South Hampshire, and died at Westbury House, Petersfield, Hampshire, at the age of 56. He was childless and left his estate to his wife (in her lifetime) and to his nephew, Herbert Leroy, who later changed his name to Herbert Leroy-Lewis. Leroy was the grandson of William D. Lewis, who was Lewis's uncle and had worked for his father in their Russian mercantile business.Lewis's ancestors settled in the State of Delaware in the 17th century, his grandfather being Joel Lewis (1750-1820) of Christiana, New Castle County, Delaware. During the American War of Independence Joel Lewis raised a company at his own expense. However, he was also a Quaker and this action was in conflict with core beliefs of the Society. See article Quakers in the American Revolution.
From about 1860 until 1876 Lewis owned Membland Hall and estate, a distance of about 12 miles from his parliamentary constituency of Devonport. He eventually sold the property to Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke. Lewis was also the owner of the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington, now in the National Portrait Gallery (United States). The work was originally purchased by his father in 1827 and passed to Lewis's heir, Herman Leroy-Lewis.John Swartz
John Swartz (1858-1930) was a photographer in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is notable for taking the only known portrait of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang of outlaws. A copy of this iconic photograph is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery (United States)The Swartz brothers – David, John and Charles – were three Virginia farm boys who ventured west, arriving in Fort Worth in the mid-1880s. Over the next 30 years, they observed the city through the lens of a camera, snapping pictures of people, events and architecture – leaving a priceless legacy. They collectively produced thousands of photographs that were scattered to the four winds after their deaths. Hundreds of those images have survived, although the brothers themselves are largely forgotten.
The best-known photograph shows the five members of the “Wild Bunch” (aka, the “Fort Worth Five”) posed in John’s studio in 1900. His studio was located at 705½ Main Street upstairs over John P. Sheehan’s Saloon. The studio was on the edge of the red-light district known as "Hell’s Half-Acre"—the town's vice district consisting of a concentrated area of saloons, gambling halls, dance parlors, and bawdy houses catering to the rough and rowdy tastes of the Chisholm Trail cowboys. One can imagine the outlaws having a few drinks at Sheehan’s then trooping upstairs to get their picture taken. Sometime later an unnamed Fort Worth detective was in Swartz's studio and recognized two or three of the men in a photo John had on display. The detective ordered sent the photo to the Denver office of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency who were leading the nationwide search for the gang. The Pinkerton's printed large quantity of “Wanted” circulars and blanketed the country with them. By May 15, 1901, those circulars were in the hands of lawmen from Nevada to Minnesota. That infamous image immortalized the gang and is credited with helping bring about their downfall.
Swartz's extensive photographic chronicle of early Fort Worth served as the inspiration of a major downtown revival and historical preservation development known as “Sundance Square.” The Swartz brothers’ cumulative work provides a stunning visual chronicle of late 19th- and early 20th-century Fort Worth as well as a window into American life during that era.Juliet H. Lewis Campbell
Juliet Hamersley Lewis Campbell (August 5, 1823 – December 26, 1898) was an American poet and novelist.
Campbell was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the eldest child of Judge Ellis Lewis (1798–1871), later Pennsylvania Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She grew up in Towanda, Pennsylvania. She attended the Moravian Young Ladies' Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, beginning in 1835. In 1842 she married lawyer and future United States Representative James Hepburn Campbell.Campbell was a poet and her poems were included in several prominent anthologies. The American Female Poets (1848) by Caroline May included "Dreams", "A Confession", "Lines at Night", and "Tarpeia", The Female Poets of America (1849) by Rufus Wilmot Griswold included "Dreams", "Night-Blooming Flowers", and "A Story of Sunrise", and Read's Female Poets of America (1848) by Thomas Buchanan Read included "A Story of Sunrise" and "A Song of Sunset".In 1862, she published the long poem Legend of Infancy of Our Savior: A Christmas Carol.Campbell's only novel was Eros and Antieros; or, The Bachelor's Ward, published in 1857 under the name Judith Canute and published again the following year as The Old Love and the New under her own name. The hero of the novel, Arthur Walsingham, is a romantic poet and scholar in love with Viola, a woman married to his best friend. Viola and her husband die, leaving their daughter, also named Viola, in Walsingham's care. Much of the novel is dedicated to the younger Viola's upper class education, apparently intended to be an example for other women. When Viola is grown, she and Walsingham marry. The novel also extolls the virtues of the Susquehanna River and life in the vicinity of Lake Erie.Portraits of Campbell by Thomas Sully and John Henry Brown are owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.Lansdowne portrait
The Lansdowne portrait is an iconic life-size portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796. It depicts a 64-year-old Washington in his last year as President of the United States. Stuart painted the Lansdowne portrait, three copies of it, and five portraits that were closely related to it. The most famous copy is the one in the East Room of the White House.
To preclude the original portrait's possible sale at auction, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. purchased it in 2001, for $20,000,000.Michael Katakis
Michael Katakis (born 1952), is a writer, photographer, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and manager of Ernest Hemingway's literary estate. His photographs are represented in many institutions including the National Portrait Gallery (United States).
Katakis was born in Chicago, Illinois, an only child. His father emigrated from Greece shortly after World War II. His mother, who was the daughter of Greek immigrants, died when he was a boy.Katakis began writing about 1975. He later started taking photographs and has always considered himself "a writer who happens to take pictures." He travelled extensively throughout the world, making contact with a wide range of cultures and geographic locations. He visited many countries including China, West Africa, Cuba, Hungary, Morocco, Turkey, the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Italy, Greece, England, France and Spain. During this time he married Kris L. Hardin, an anthropologist, and they spent 25 years travelling together, collaborating on many projects and producing exhibitions and books derived from their work.In 2009 Michael Katakis and Kris L. Hardin donated thousands of pages and photographs of their work to the British Library. The couple gave interviews, which were placed in the Oral History section of the library. In 2011 an exhibition, 'Michael Katakis Photographs', was held in the Folio Gallery of the library to coincide with the publication of "Photographs and Words," authored by Katakis and Hardin. The book featured photographs from the projects 'The Vietnam Veterans Memorial', 'Troubled Land: 12 Days Across America' (a portrait of the US in the days after the September 11 attacks) and 'A Time and Place Before War', which documented life in Sierra Leone before the outbreak of civil war in 1991). Details of these projects and the time spent in Sierra Leone by Katakis and Hardin, were covered in the interviews.In 1999 Katakis was working with Ernest Hemingway's second son, Patrick Hemingway, on a collection of essays, when Katakis accepted an offer by Hemingway to manage Ernest Hemingway's literary estate.The work of Michael Katakis has been translated into several languages including Greek, Bulgarian and Chinese and his photographs have been collected by institutions including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and Stanford University's Special Collections Department.In 1999 Katakis was elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and in 2011 was presented to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. In 2012 he was appointed Ambassador for the British Library and elected Director of Americans for the British Library.National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery may refer to:
National Portrait Gallery (Australia), in Canberra
National Portrait Gallery, London, with satellite galleries in Denbighshire, North Yorkshire and Somerset
National Portrait Gallery (United States), in Washington, D.C.
Portrait Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, Ontario
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh
National Portrait Gallery (Sweden), in MariefredPortrait Gallery
A Portrait Gallery is a gallery or museum in which portraits are shown.
This can be a private gallery, however the most prominent portrait galleries are National Portrait Galleries such as
National Portrait Gallery (Australia) in Canberra
Portrait Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario
National Portrait Gallery (London), with satellite galleries in Denbighshire, Derbyshire and Somerset
National Portrait Gallery (United States) in Washington DC
Scottish National Portrait Gallery in EdinburghPortrait Gallery may also refer to:
Portrait Gallery (album), a 1975 Harry Chapin albumPresident Barack Obama (painting)
President Barack Obama is a 2018 portrait of Barack Obama by the artist Kehinde Wiley for the National Portrait Gallery.Steven Whyte
Steven Whyte (born 17 March 1969) is a sculptor classically trained in the traditional methodology of figurative bronze and portrait sculpture living in Carmel, California who has produced many public memorials and installations in both England and throughout the United States with subjects ranging from miners, to soldiers and fire fighters. He is credited with over fifty life size and larger bronze public figures and major monuments including The Silverdale Mining Memorial, The Lance Sergeant Jack Baskeyfield VC Tribute, The Spirit of 1948, and The Dr. John Roberts Monument. Whyte multimillion-dollar, sixteen-figure monument in San Diego, California entitled National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military, and two 1.5 times life size portraits busts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Column of Knowledge featuring Dr. King's bust atop the books that influenced his life and a 2nd bust above Dr. King's famous "I have a dream speech").
In 2010 Whyte unveiled a twice life size portrait monument of the 1957 Heisman Trophy Winner, John David Crow at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and a life size full relief statue of St. Anthony and Child at Basilica of Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (Carmel Mission) Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.
Whyte's work includes a four life size figures for a memorial to the fallen officers of the San Diego Sheriff's Department to be unveiled in May 2011. Whyte is currently working on a nine figure composition for Cannery Row, Monterey, CA, and a life size Jumbo the Elephant for Tufts University, MA. And a massive statue for Texas A&M University, The Aggie War Hymn Monument, twelve 1.6 times life size bronze figures of students, "sawing off variety's horns", the 10 ft by 39 ft sculpture was unveiled in September 2014, at a cost of $1.7M. Whyte is about to start statues of rocker Lemmy of Motörhead for Stoke-on-Trent and Germany.
In 2016 Whyte was awarded Sports Artist of the Year, sculptor, by The United States Sports Academy and The American Sport Art Museum & Archives.In December 2016 The Smithsonian Institution acquired Whyte's bronze bust of Congressman John Conyers Jr. for the National Portrait Gallery (United States) in Washington D.C..
Whyte was the sculptor for the Column of Strength, San Francisco’s controversial Comfort Women Memorial.Titus Kaphar
Titus Kaphar is an American painter whose work reconfigures and regenerates art history to include the African-American subject. His paintings are held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, Yale University Art Gallery, New Britain Museum of American Art, Seattle Art Museum and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.William Bingham
William Bingham (March 8, 1752 – February 7, 1804) was an American statesman from Philadelphia. He was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788 and served in the United States Senate from 1795 to 1801.