Portrait Gallery

Portrait Gallery

Washington, D.C. – August 1, 2009

This is a museum I had always wanted to visit.  I was not disappointed; actually, I was surprised.  In my mind, I assumed this museum was just portraits, mainly of our presidents.  That is so far from the case.

I imagine this museum is not visited as much as some of the other Smithsonian museums because it is not located right on the Mall.  One has to want to visit this museum to actually make the trip there.  It is in a bustling part of DC, near Ford’s Theater, The International Spy Museum, and the Verizon Center.

Something that struck me in the museum was what I at first thought were death masks of President Lincoln.  As it turns out, both were actually cast while he was alive.  In the accompanying photograph, the mask on the left was made around 1860, before he was elected president.  The other mask was cast only about two months prior to his assassination in 1865.  The casts of his hands were equally interesting.

Lincoln life-masks.
An 1861 portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
A sculpture of Abraham Lincoln with Grant and Stanton.
Lincoln on his deathbed.
A portrait of George W. Bush.
A portrait of George H. W. Bush.
A portrait of Ronald Reagan.

I spent quite some time examining the bronze sculpture of George Washington.  For some reason, I was enthralled with the statue.

Washington Resigning His Commission.
A bust of Susan B. Anthony.
A portrait of Edgar Allan Poe.
A portrait of Alexander Hamilton.
A portrait of Andrew Jackson.

Another sculpture that I thought was very well done was Eve Tempted by Hiram Powers.  It was done in 1842.  To me, it is somewhat reminiscent of the Venus de Milo.  Just a very striking piece.

Eve Tempted.
A portrait of Ulyses S. Grant.
Grant’s Generals.
Among the Sierra Nevada, California.
Young Omahaw [sic], War Eagle, Little Missouri, and Pawnees.
Lamentations over the Death of the First Born of Egypt by Charles Pearce.
Market Day Outside the Walls of Tangiers, Morocco by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
One of my favorites of the day.
A colorful sculpture.
One of the museum halls.

Lastly, I stumbled across a sculpture of a horse.  It was done in bronze, but it actually looked like driftwood had been used.  It was very interesting to look at.  It was displayed in such a way that one could easily walk around all sides for a careful inspection.

In my opinion, the National Portrait Gallery is a must-see museum.

Deborah Butterfield, Monekana, 2001.
Tyler at the restaurant for lunch.

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