George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and women of science and technology. Many of these are now in the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. – Deborah Jean Warner, Curator, Physical Sciences Collection A picture may tell 1000 words, but another 500 for context can add depth to the image. Follow this blog series to discover the people behind the portraits available online in the Scientific Identity collection. Joseph Jerome Le Francais de Lalande (1732-1807) Had Joseph Jerome Le Francis de Lalande chosen a different place of lodging, he may very well have become a barrister or priest in the more »
This post was written by Sofia Silva, Katzenberger Intern at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library and American Art & Portrait Gallery Library as part of a series exploring the Art & Artists Files at the Smithsonian Libraries. Though contemporaries, the artists James Browning Wyeth and Andy Warhol could not be more diametrically opposed. James, more commonly known as Jamie, is a third-generation member of the famed Wyeth family, who are celebrated as central figures in the revival of realism in American art (his father is Andrew Wyeth, painter of the American classic Christina’s World and his grandfather, N.C. Wyeth is acclaimed painter of vast landscapes and epic narratives of early Americana). Jamie continued this family tradition as a portraitist and landscape painter, whose naturalistic approach to painting produced highly detailed and visually complex work that captured life in rural Maine, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
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 »
Charles Loring Elliott (born Scipio, NY, 1812; died Albany, NY, 1868) At the time of his death, Charles Loring Elliott was one of the most well-known American portrait painters of the mid-19th century. The artist vertical file at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery (AAPG) Library contains several contemporaneous multi-page eulogies and/or reminiscences on Elliott’s life and career. In 1867, Henry Tuckerman claimed that Elliott had painted almost 700 portraits – a truly prolific life’s work if indeed true.
Alexander Lawrie (born New York, NY, 1828; died Lafayette, IN, 1917) Alexander Lawrie, son of a Scottish immigrant, started his artistic career by apprenticing as a wood engraver at the age of 16. By 1852 he had moved to Phildadelphia where he was most likely enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where several of his paintings were exhibited. In 1855 Lawrie and his friend William Trost Richards (an American landscape artist) sailed to Europe. After a brief time in Paris, Lawrie went to Düsseldorf Germany and began studying with Emanuel Leutze (an artist most famous nowadays for his painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware). After 22 months with Leutze, Lawrie went to Florence for further instruction and returned to the United States in 1857. When the American Civil War broke out, Lawrie enlisted as private in the Seventeenth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and rose to the rank of Captain. As part of General Burnside's march from Sharpsburg, MD to Fredericksburg, VA, Lawire was more »
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