National Portrait Gallery


For Neil Simon, Laughter Was His Lifeline

The influential playwright defined American comedy for a generation of television, theater and movie audiences

The portrait John S. McCain III by Steve Pyke, 2005, went of view today at the National Portrait Gallery in memory of the U.S. Senator who died August 25.

The Portrait That Captures the Defining Features of John McCain’s Life and Career

A photograph of the straight-talking Arizona senator goes on view In Memoriam at the Portrait Gallery

Leonard Bernstein, Carnegie Hall, New York City by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1960 goes on view at the National Portrait Gallery on Bernstein's 100th birthday, August 25, 2018.

The Moment That Defines Famed American Composer Leonard Bernstein

The National Portrait Gallery showcases a celebrated conductor as portrayed by the master French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

Few oil paintings exist of prominent early-20th century African-Americans (above: Portrait of Clarence Muse and Elliot Carpenter by Woodard's Studio, ca. 1937), but the photographic record is much richer, says Kate Lemay.

How Can Museums Democratize Portraiture?

As the National Portrait Gallery turns 50, it is asking how well its collections represent the people—and where there is room for improvement

At the National Portrait Gallery's inaugural American Portrait Gala, Franklin was honored in 2015 with a Portrait of the Nation Prize.

Museum Curators Reflect on the Legacy of the Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin dies at 76; her memory lives on at the Smithsonian in artwork, photographs and other ephemera

At a time when factional tensions on Earth were running rampant, Earthrise served to remind us of our cosmic insignificance.

These Images From 1968 Capture an America in Violent Flux

A one-room show at the National Portrait Gallery is a hauntingly relevant 50-year-old time capsule

Among the colorful characters immortalized in the colorless daguerreotype medium are (clockwise from upper left): writer Henry Thoreau, Seneca leader Blacksnake, Navy Commodore Matthew Perry, mental health crusader Dorothea Dix, showmen P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb, and actress Charlotte Cushman.

How Daguerreotype Photography Reflected a Changing America

The National Portrait Gallery brings the eerie power of a historic medium into focus

Silhouettes of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant of Weybridge, Vermont, (c. 1805-1815) is possibly the first depiction of a same sex couple.

Rarely Seen 19th-Century Silhouette of a Same-Sex Couple Living Together Goes On View

A new show, featuring the paper cutouts, reveals unheralded early Americans, as well as contemporary artists working with this old art form

Henrietta Lacks (HeLa): The Mother of Modern Medicine by Kadir Nelson (detail, above) is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through November 4, 2018.

Famed for “Immortal” Cells, Henrietta Lacks is Immortalized in Portraiture

Lacks's cells gave rise to medical miracles, but ethical questions of propriety and ownership continue to swirl

The enthralling c. 1993 portrait of Anthony by ADÁL (detail above), face and palms to the sky, captures the performer’s signature flair.

Marc Anthony Garners the Big Win in the Portrait Gallery's People's Choice Award

A portrait of salsa music's all-time top-selling artist is on display on the museum's "Recognize" wall

Yamashita was the model for Chair, but this is not a self-portrait. "It could have been anyone," she says. "For me, poetry doesn’t exist in specificity."

Artist Kumi Yamashita Creates an Amazing Human Figure Out of Shadow

Coming soon to the National Portrait Gallery, an old art form gets reinvented

Years after she captured this tender, reflective image of the First Lady, photographer Diana Walker sent a print of the photograph to George H. W. Bush. “It does seem like so long ago, but seeing this image brings everything back into focus,” President Bush wrote in response: “The photo now hangs in my office in Maine, and I enjoy it every day.”

Smithsonian Curators Reflect on How Barbara Bush Will Be Remembered

As both the First Lady and the mother of a President, Mrs. Bush leaves a legacy of a national grandmother with an iron backbone

Artist Titus Kaphar says that his 2014 Columbus Day Painting—which greets "Unseen" visitors in the first gallery—was inspired by his young son’s conflicted and confusing study of the putative discoverer of America.

Two Artists in Search of Missing History

A new exhibition makes a powerful statement about the oversights of American history and America’s art history

American Farm Hand by Sandor Klein, 1937

How Portraiture Gave Rise to the Glamour of Guns

American portraiture with its visual allure and pictorial storytelling made gun ownership desirable

The rose buds are the universal symbol for love and courage.

In Obama's Official Portrait the Flowers Are Cultivated From the Past

Kehinde Wiley’s painting is full of historical art references says Kim Sajet, the director of the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Hurd's famous portrait of Lyndon Baines Johnson

The Presidential Portrait That Was the 'Ugliest Thing' L.B.J. Ever Saw

Lyndon Johnson’s cantankerous nature carried over to even the more engaging parts of being Commander in Chief

The specially commissioned portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama make their formal museum debut.

The Obamas' Official Portraits Break New Ground With Their Boldness

A picture-perfect reveal ceremony was by turns heartfelt and humorous

Both Kehinde Wiley and Obama said they were struck by parallels in their life stories. “Both of us had American mothers who raised us, with extraordinary love and support,” Obama said.

Artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald Capture the Unflinching Gaze of the President and First Lady

The nation's first African-American presidency is marked by two prominent African-American portraitists

Rosie the Riveter by J. Howard Miller, 1942; Uncle Sam by J. M Flagg, 1917

Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam: Two Portraits, Two Methods of Persuasion

Kim Sajet, director of the Portrait Gallery, says that while Uncle Sam orders, Rosie inspires collective action

An Italian marble sculpture of William Pitt the Younger as the Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpents Fox and North by Pieratoni (called ’Sposino’), c.1790

The Ugliest Sculpture Ever, Says the Portrait Gallery’s Director

A bizarre sculpture of a baby Hercules strangling two snakes set this art historian on a course of discovery

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