Portraiture

Mickalene Thomas,  Jet Blue #25 (detail), 2021

Mickalene Thomas' Dazzling Collages Reclaim Black Women's Bodies

A four-part exhibition premiering this fall showcases the contemporary artist's multimedia portrayals of Black femininity

Jacques-Louis David, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and Marie Anne Lavoisier (Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836), 1788

Art Meets Science

Iconic Portrait of French Chemist and His Wife Once Looked Entirely Different

Jacques-Louis David's 1789 painting originally depicted Antoine and Marie Anne Lavoisier as wealthy elites, not modern scientists

Chuck Close Self-Portrait, dye diffusion transfer prints, 1989

Chuck Close, Artist Whose Photorealist Portraits Captivated America, Dies at 81

The painter, who faced accusations of sexual harassment later in life, continuously changed his artistic style

Shaped mostly like a diamond, Washington, D.C. is organized by geographical divides centered on the U.S. Capitol and the White House, using mathematical principles employed by the original designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

Track the Hidden Histories Lurking in the Street Names of Washington, D.C.

A new exhibition highlights the people behind some of the capital city’s roadways, plazas and parks

The Marchioness (2016) depicts a member of the fictional UmuEze Amara family, "one of the oldest noble clans in Nigeria."

Imagining a Different History for Africa Through Art

Toyin Ojih Odutola conjures a world that might have been

The Larry J. West Collection features an array of early photography, (above: Untitled (pin, woman in hat) by unidentified artist, ca. 1865), presenting a stunning new visual record.

New Collection of Portraits Presents the Diversity of 19th-Century American Photography

Smithsonian American Art Museum announces major acquisition of the works of Black photographers James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge and Augustus Washington

A view of the Thornton Portrait Gallery at the Huntington (L to R): Joshua Reynolds, Diana (Sackville), Viscountess Crosbie, 1777; Thomas Gainsborough, The Blue Boy, 1770; and Thomas Gainsborough, Elizabeth (Jenks) Beaufoy, later Elizabeth Pycroft, c. 1780

Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy' Is Headed Back to the U.K.—but Some Experts Fear for Its Safety

A 2018 panel of nine conservators "strongly recommend[ed] against lending" the fragile 18th-century portrait

Bronzino, Eleonora di Toledo and Francesco de’ Medici, c. 1550

Florence's Medici Family Used Portraits as Propaganda

A new exhibition at the Met reveals how the Italian banking dynasty drew on art to cement its power and legacy

The painting is one of 47 in the pop star's D Heads series.

Cool Finds

David Bowie Painting Purchased at Landfill for $4 Expected to Fetch Thousands

The rock star created the semi-abstract portrait—up for auction through June 24—in 1997

Rendering of ReWildAR, an augmented reality experience debuting at the Smithsonian's "Futures" exhibition later this year

Futures Exhibition

Immerse Yourself in Five Alternate Worlds Envisioned by Leading Artists

The Smithsonian's "Futures" exhibition features commissions by Beatriz Cortez, Nettrice Gaskins, Soo Sunny Park, Devan Shimoyama, Tamiko Thiel and /p

Researchers Anthony Bourached and George Cann trained an algorithm to recreate "lost" works of art like this Modigliani portrait.

Art Meets Science

Did Modernist Master Modigliani Paint a New Portrait Over a Likeness of His Ex?

A.I. reconstruction reveals hidden image that may depict the Italian artist's former girlfriend, Beatrice Hastings

Before donating the 45.5-carat Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, the jeweler Harry Winston had Bradford Bachrach photograph Eleanor Kidd—the face of Lucky Strike cigarettes—wearing 
the gem in 1958.

The Story Behind the Photography Studio That Captured America

For generations, Bachrach Photographers made everyone, from JFK to Duke Ellington to everyday people, look great

This 1561 portrait depicts Catherine de' Medici standing alongside three of her children, including the newly crowned Charles IX.

Rarely Seen Portrait of Renaissance Queen Catherine de' Medici to Go on View

The 16th-century regent, pictured with four of her children, wielded significant political power during the French Wars of Religion

This 1540 miniature by Hans Holbein may depict the Tudor king's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, not his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Presumed Portrait of Catherine Howard May Actually Depict Anne of Cleves

A Hans Holbein miniature long thought to depict Henry VIII's fifth queen may instead portray the Tudor king's fourth wife

A view of the marble head discovered last week in Isernia, a town in south-central Italy

Cool Finds

Archaeologists in Italy Unearth Marble Bust of Rome's First Emperor, Augustus

Researchers identified the sculpture based on the ancient ruler's signature hairstyle and facial features

Grace Hartigan, Masquerade, 1954

Sweeping Survey Unites Works by 100 Women Artists of the Past Century

An ongoing exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, features 200 paintings, sculptures, ceramics and more

Amy Sherald's posthumous portrait of Breonna Taylor serves as the Louisville show's focal point.

How an Art Exhibition in Breonna Taylor's Hometown Honors Her Life and Impact

The Louisville show is organized around three overarching themes proposed by Taylor's mother: promise, witness and remembrance

The Miaz Brothers' hazy portraits challenge viewers' perceptions, inviting the audience to complete the artworks' narrative.

These Out-of-Focus Paintings Put a Contemporary Spin on Traditional Portraiture

A new exhibition in London showcases the Miaz Brothers' radical subversion of Old Master classics

A previously unknown Thomas Gainsborough portrait of composer Antonín Kammel

Cool Finds

Newly Discovered Gainsborough Portrait Reveals Likeness of Overlooked Composer

The acclaimed British artist's painting of Czech musician Antonín Kammel may be worth upward of $1.3 million

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery boasts the only public collection of images depicting every single U.S. president throughout history.

The Thorny Politics of Presidential Portraiture

In a new podcast, the National Portrait Gallery reveals that a portrait is being commissioned of the former president

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