Elaine de Kooning: Portraits in the Art and Artist Files

The National Portrait Gallery is currently exhibiting the work of Elaine de Kooning in the show Elaine de Kooning: Portraits, organized by Brandon Brame Fortune, the Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and senior curator of painting and sculpture. Elaine was an active member of the Abstract Expressionists in New York, a group known for a style defined by vivid colors, spontaneity and emotive strokes of thick, layered paint on monumental canvases. She married more »

Discovering the artwork of the original AA/PG Library

~This post was written by Katherine Williamson, an intern at the American Art/ Portrait Gallery library. As part of my work as an American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) intern, I answer reference questions from patrons that involve some type of research, either within our collection or using  online sources that the library subscribes to. One of the most interesting reference questions I have received actually came from our Head Librarian, Doug Litts. Through his own research involving the original location of the AA/PG library – Room 331 of the main museum building – he came across a list of paintings, a marble bust and a cast iron sculpture, that were located in what was known as the NCFA/NPG Library when it was housed in the museum. Through circumstances unknown to us, those artworks were never transported to the Victor Building when the library moved here in 2000. He became very interested in the history of the artworks, as well as where they are now, and recruited me to help him more »

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony

The Libraries has a list of American Women’s History Resources with links to many interesting items, including the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection at the Library of Congress, which includes items of the famous suffragette.

Women’s History Month: Sarah Miriam Peale

One of the painting Peales, Sarah Miriam Peale was also the last of the artistic dynasty, whose members included her uncle Charles Wilson Peale, and cousins Rembrandt, Raphaelle, and Rubens Peale. The family encouraged both boys and girls to pursue the arts. Sarah was the most successful female painter in the family. For a time a local resident of both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., she mainly painted portraits—of such illustrious figures as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Hart Benton. Her work is included in many museum and private collections. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery features her self -portrait in their online exhibition, American Women: A Selection from the National Portrait Gallery. The Libraries also has some interesting items in its collections on the artist: Sarah M. Peale: America's first woman artist, by Joan King The Peale family: creation of a legacy, 1770-1870, Lillian B. Miller, editor. Miss Sarah Miriam Peale, 1800-1885; portraits and still life, by Wilbur H. Hunter and John Mahey. Exhibition, February 5, 1967 through March 26, 1967, the Peale more »

Women’s History Month—Brenda Putnam

Brenda Putnam was a sculptor and daughter of the first Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam. Some of her most well-known pieces include the Puck statue at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., and a portrait bust of Amelia Earheart. The Libraries has a catalogue of her work in its Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library, Sculpture by Brenda Putnam, and also a work by the artist in its Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Library, Animal X-rays, a skeleton key to comparative anatomy. —Elizabeth Periale Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's Photographs of Women on Flickr.

Vertical File Collection at the AA/PG Library

Vertical files in art museums and libraries are repositories of “ephemera” — things that are not intended to last a long time. Among other things, the ephemera collected in the artist files may be: announcements of exhibitions, small catalogs, press releases, clippings from various print sources, and correspondences. The vertical file collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) supports the mission of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. The mission for all of the Smithsonian is for ‘The increase and diffusion of knowledge’. In this particular case the knowledge relates to the understanding of the American Experience especially in the visual arts. The vertical file collection is extremely valuable to researchers not only because of its age and depth but because of the "ephemeral" nature of material in the files.  Since these objects were not meant to be retained, a lot of them are very rare.  Additionally their historical value is very high. The AA/PG Library’s Vertical more »

Meet Miranda Metcalf

Miranda Metcalf is the new intern from the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art / National Portrait Gallery Library. Miranda recently graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. For her internship, Miranda will be working on a Zotero resource bibliography for researching portraiture. She will also be working in the library's art and artist vertical files and on a serials project. Miranda is hoping to go to graduate school to study art history and museum studies. She enjoys baking, running, finding new and amazing music, and spending time with animals. The Libraries and the National Portrait Gallery are excited to have Miranda join us for the fall and we look forward to blogging about her work later.—Doug Litts

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