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George Biddle Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

George Biddle Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

George Biddle Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery

George Biddle

National Portrait Gallery
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.

George Santayana

National Portrait Gallery

Jo Davidson (92)

National Portrait Gallery

Edmund Wilson

National Portrait Gallery

Thomas J. Mooney

National Portrait Gallery

Morris Kantor

National Portrait Gallery

Jo Davidson Sculpting Boardman Robinson

National Portrait Gallery

Zum Brauhaus

National Portrait Gallery
Speakeasies, or illegal bars, sprang up in New York City during the Prohibition era (1920–1933), becoming favorite hangouts for many artists. The painter George Biddle peppered his diaries with accounts of late-night sessions at various underground establishments, where he and his artist friends met to drink, smoke, and argue about art. In 1933, as Prohibition neared its end, Biddle painted a series of speakeasy scenes, often including witty portraits of colleagues. Here, he depicts an evening at Zum Brauhaus. Biddle’s wife, sculptor Hélène Sardeau (1899–1969), sits beside the pipe smoking painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889–1953). The caricaturist Peggy Bacon (1895–1987) smokes a ciga rette at far right, while her husband, artist Alexander Brook (1898–1980), stands at the bar behind her. While working on this series, Biddle lobbied government officials to adopt his plan for employing painters during the Depression—an idea that ulti mately became the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Durante la era de la ley seca (1920–1933) apare cieron en la ciudad de Nueva York los bares ilegales llamados speakeasies, sitios de reunión favoritos de muchos artistas. El pintor George Biddle relató en su diario diversas veladas en estos lugares donde él y sus amigos artistas se reunían para beber, fumar y hablar de arte. En 1933, hacia el final de la ley seca, Biddle pintó una serie de escenas de speakeasies donde solía incluir retratos ingeniosos de sus colegas. Aquí muestra una velada en Zum Brauhaus. La esposa de Biddle, la escultora Hélène Sardeau (1899–1969), está sentada junto al pintor Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889–1953), que sostiene una pipa. La caricaturista Peggy Bacon (1895–1987) aparece a la extrema derecha con un cigarrillo, y su esposo, el artista Alexander Brook (1898–1980), está de pie junto al bar detrás de ella. Mientras trabajaba en esta serie, Biddle cabildeó ante el gobierno para que adoptara su plan de emplear artistas durante la Gran Depresión, idea que culminó más tarde en la creación de la Adminis tración para el Progreso de Obras Públicas (WPA).

Department of Justice, Decorations by George Biddle

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
George Biddle (January 24, 1885 - November 6, 1973) was an American artist who worked on the Federal Art Project, the visual arts arm of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. He is best known for his mural,Tenement, which was displayed in the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.. However, Biddle's mural in the top left of this photograph appears to be Sweatshop.

This image was taken by Ruel P. Tolman, former Director of Smithsonian National Collection of Fine Arts and is included in a scrapbook of photographs of Smithsonian staff, grounds and buildings, exhibitions, and Washington, D.C. scenes (Section J).

See Negative Number SIA2011-1300 for an additional image of George Biddle's mural on the Department of Justice Building.

Photograph of George Biddle's mural in the Justice Department Building, and the crowd gathered around the building. Biddle was an American artist who worked on the Federal Art project. The mural in the top left of the photograph appears to be his mural, Sweatshop. The scrapbook has an arrow pointing to the upper left corner of the image to point out Biddle's painting.

Diary transcript

Archives of American Art
Diary : 122 p. : typescript ; 28 x 22 cm. Typed transcript of Biddle's diaries spanning the years of 1933 to 1941.
Many of his entries relate to his interest in and service with various offices of the federal art projects and his friendship with and attempt to influence Franklin D. Roosevelt; (they were classmates at Groton). He urged the administration to hire painters to do mural work, specifying Henry Poor, Reginald Marsh, Thomas Benton, Boardman Robinson, Maurice Sterne, Edward Laning, and Henry Billings.
He writes of the opposition of the Commission of Fine Arts, especially Eugene F. Savage, and of his contacts with such administrators as Holger Cahill, Ned Bruce, et al., and his involvement with the Public Works of Art Project, and his work on murals in the Justice Department.
He gives his impressions of George Grosz and of Man Ray.
He reacts to events in Europe, describes a sketching trip with Henry Poor in Pennsylvania Dutch County, a visit with Frank Lloyd Wright, the American Artists Congress, the Federal Union, etc.

Grant and His Generals

National Portrait Gallery
Left to right: Thomas C. Devin (1822-1878), George A. Custer (1839-1876), Hugh J. Kilpatrick (1836-1881), William H. Emory (1811-1887), Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888), James B. McPherson (1828-1864), George Crook (1830-1890), Wesley Merritt (1834-1910), George H. Thomas (1816-1870), Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830-1882), George G. Meade (1815-1872), John G. Parke (1827-1900), William T. Sherman (1820-1891), John A. Logan (1826-1886), Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881), Joseph Hooker (1814-1879), Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), John A. Rawlins (1831-1869), Edward O. C. Ord (1818-1883), Francis Preston Blair (1821-1875), Alfred H. Terry (1827-1890), Henry W. Slocum (1827-1894), Jefferson C. Davis (1828-1879), Oliver O. Howard (1830-1909), John M. Schofield (1831-1906), Joseph A. Mower (1827-1870)

After the Norwegian artist Ole Peter Hansen Balling had sketched President Lincoln at the White House in the fall of 1864, he obtained permission to paint life portraits of leading Union generals. Balling joined General Grant at City Point, Virginia, during the campaign against Richmond and spent five weeks there sketching officers in the field. Philip H. Sheridan was painted while in the Shenandoah Valley; the portraits of William T. Sherman and George H. Thomas were done in Washington after the end of the war. The image of George A. Custer, second from the left, is thought to be the only life portrait painted of him.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

National Portrait Gallery
In 1960 Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson had believed that his national prominence and power base in the Senate would win him the Democratic nomination for president. After Kennedy won the nomination, he surprised everyone by offering Johnson the vice presidency-and Johnson surprised the political pundits by accepting it. Kennedy hoped that Johnson would balance his "Yankee Roman Catholic" image and give him Texas, a prognosis borne out in one of the closest presidential elections in American history. Kennedy later acknowledged the role reversal, admitting, "I spent years of my life [as a senator] when I could not get consideration for a bill, until I went around and begged Lyndon Johnson to let it go ahead." Kennedy's aides often ridiculed Johnson as "Uncle Cornpone," but the president always spoke of him with respect, placing him in charge of the administration's space exploration initiative.

Popular Song Composers

National Portrait Gallery

LBJ - President Signs Civil Rights Bill

National Portrait Gallery
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill at the White House

After criticizing President John F. Kennedy for failing to advance civil rights legislation, King was elated when Kennedy addressed the nation on June 11, 1963, and pledged to seek passage of a civil rights bill that would provide "equality of treatment" to every American. Sent to the House on June 19, the bill soon became stalled in committee, where it languished until President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22. Declaring that prompt passage of Kennedy’s civil rights bill would be the most fitting way to honor the late president, Lyndon Johnson successfully pressured Congress to bring it to a vote. The bill cleared the House on February 10, 1964, and reached the Senate floor on March 30, where it was blocked by a filibuster until June 10. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was finally signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, King (second row, center) attended the ceremony.

Lincoln and his Lieutenants

National Portrait Gallery

Heroes of the Republic

National Portrait Gallery

Grant and His Generals

National Portrait Gallery
As the Civil War moved into its final stages in the fall of 1864, the Norwegian artist Ole Peter Hansen Balling and a prosperous New Yorker conceived of the idea for a large equestrian painting depicting the commander of the Union armies, Ulysses S. Grant, flanked by an array of generals who served under him. Upon completion, the painting would be used to raise funds for the United States Sanitary Commission, a private organization for aiding sick and wounded soldiers. To obtain likenesses of the twenty-seven figures in the picture, Balling traveled to Union army encampments to make life studies of his subjects. Among the most cooperative was Grant, who gave Balling repeated opportunities to draw him as he rode with staff officers to survey the forward lines near his headquarters at City Point, Virginia.

The final rendering of Grant and His Generals approached being life-sized. Balling also painted this smaller version, most likely to serve as the template for a color lithograph of the picture. Today both paintings are in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection; the large version is on display in a nearby stairwell.

Left to right: Thomas C. Devin (1822–1878), George A. Custer (1839–1876), Hugh J. Kilpatrick (1836–1881), William H. Emory (1811–1887), Philip H. Sheridan (1831–1888), James B. McPherson (1828–1864), George Crook (1830–1890), Wesley Merritt (1834–1910), George H. Thomas (1816–1870), Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830–1882), George G. Meade (1815–1872), John G. Parke (1827–1900), William T. Sherman (1820–1891), John A. Logan (1826–1886), Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), Ambrose E. Burnside (1824–1881), Joseph Hooker (1814–1879), Winfield Scott Hancock (1824–1886), John A. Rawlins (1831–1869), Edward O. C. Ord (1818–1883), Francis Preston Blair (1821–1875), Alfred H. Terry (1827–1890), Henry W. Slocum (1827–1894), Jefferson C. Davis (1828–1879), Oliver O. Howard (1830–1909), John M. Schofield (1831–1906), Joseph A. Mower (1827–1870)

Mientras la Guerra Civil se acercaba a su etapa final en el otoño de 1864, el artista noruego Ole Peter Hansen Balling y un próspero neoyorquino idearon hacer una pintura ecuestre de gran formato que representara al comandante de los ejércitos de la Unión, Ulysses S. Grant, flanqueado por un nutrido grupo de los generales que estaban bajo sus órdenes. El cuadro se utilizaría para recaudar fondos a beneficio del Comité Sanitario de Estados Unidos, organización privada que ayudaba a los soldados enfermos o heridos. Para poder hacer los retratos de los veintisiete personajes que aparecen en el cuadro, Balling visitó los campamentos de la Unión y dibujó bocetos del natural. Entre los modelos más cooperadores estuvo Grant, quien permitió a Balling dibujarlo en varias ocasiones mientras cabalgaba con sus oficiales para inspeccionar el frente de batalla cerca de su cuartel general en City Point, Virginia.

La versión final de Grant y sus generales es casi de tamaño natural. Balling también pintó esta versión más pequeña, probablemente como plantilla para una litografía a color. Hoy, ambas pinturas se encuentran en la colección de la National Portrait Gallery. La versión grande se expone en el vano de una escalera cercana.

Desde la izquierda: Thomas C. Devin (1822–1878), George A. Custer (1839–1876), Hugh J. Kilpatrick (1836–1881), William H. Emory (1811–1887), Philip H. Sheridan (1831–1888), James B. McPherson (1828–1864), George Crook (1830–1890), Wesley Merritt (1834–1910), George H. Thomas (1816–1870), Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830–1882), George G. Meade (1815–1872), John G. Parke (1827–1900), William T. Sherman (1820–1891), John A. Logan (1826–1886), Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), Ambrose E. Burnside (1824–1881), Joseph Hooker (1814–1879), Winfield Scott Hancock (1824–1886), John A. Rawlins (1831–1869), Edward O. C. Ord (1818–1883), Francis Preston Blair (1821–1875), Alfred H. Terry (1827–1890), Henry W. Slocum (1827–1894), Jefferson C. Davis (1828–1879), Oliver O. Howard (1830–1909), John M. Schofield (1831–1906), Joseph A. Mower (1827–1870)

Chauve-Souris (program)

National Portrait Gallery

Cocoanut Grove Caricature Dress

National Portrait Gallery
After caricaturist Ralph Barton published an illustration in Vanity Fair highlighting the film-world elite dining at Hollywood's legendary Cocoanut Grove restaurant, the design was chosen for an Americana series of silk fabrics. One young flapper chose the Cocoanut Grove silk to make into this simple frock. Famous profiles of John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Eddie Cantor pop out of the picture; Charlie Chaplin scurries in late; film industry regulator Will Hays serves as the maître d'hôtel. The dress, still stained from its partygoing career, undoubtedly evoked for its owner the tempo, glamour, and theatricality of metropolitan life. To her elders, though, it must have seemed shockingly revealing of arms and legs.

Radio Talent

National Portrait Gallery
Miguel Covarrubias’s 1938 caricature, Radio Talent, depicted a cloud of popular celebrities who came to fame during the heyday of American radio broadcasting. At the depths of the Depression, radio’s two major networks—NBC and CBS—provided a cultural glue that helped bind the country together in the worst of economic times. Because everyone listened to the same thing, the vast listening audience shared a mainstream culture that was broadcast daily. Programs radiating both high and low forms of entertainment wafted through the airwaves and reached not only big cities but also small towns everywhere. Here, Covarrubias captured the most famous stars "on the air," including Jack Benny, Rudy Vallee, W. C. Fields, Burns and Allen, Kate Smith, Benny Goodman, Arturo Toscanini, and Bing Crosby.
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