Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia-born social realist artist George Biddle was a strong advocate of government support for the arts. With the backing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a former classmate at Groton School, Biddle helped organize the Public Works of Art Project, which led to the formation of the Federal Art Project, a program of the Works Progress Administration. Among the thousands of artworks the program produced was Biddle’s own mural, The Tenement, which he completed for the U.S. Department of Justice’s building in Washington. During World War II, Biddle presided as chairman over the War Department’s Art Advisory Committee, and in 1950 he was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. These portraits of Biddle and his wife, Belgian-born sculptor Hélène Sardeau, were drawn by their close friend Marguerite Zorach shortly after their 1931 marriage. They are a gift from the Biddles’ son.
National Portrait Gallery