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Catalog Data

Laura Wheeler Waring, 1887 - 1948  Search this
Marian Anderson, 27 Feb 1897 - 8 Apr 1993  Search this
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 193 x 102.2 x 2.5cm (76 x 40 1/4 x 1")
Frame: 207.6 x 114.9 x 7.9cm (81 3/4 x 45 1/4 x 3 1/8")
Exhibition Label:
Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
One of the outstanding voices of the twentieth century, contralto Marian Anderson-like many African American artists of the time-first achieved success in Europe. Impresario Sol Hurok convinced her to return to America, and a triumphant 1935 concert secured her reputation. In 1939 she became embroiled in a historic event when the Daughters of the American Revolution banned her appearance at its Constitution Hall because she was black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt intervened and facilitated Anderson's Easter Sunday outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial-an event witnessed by 75,000 and broadcast to a radio audience of millions. In 1955 Anderson was invited to appear at the Metropolitan Opera, becoming the first African American to sing an important role with that company.
The Harmon Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in New York City and active from (1922-1967) included this portrait in their exhibition “Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origins” which documented noteworthy African Americans’ contributions to the country. Modeling their goal of social equality, the Harmon sought portraits from an African-American artist, Laura Wheeler Waring and Euro-American artist, Betsy Graves Reyneau. The two painters followed the conventional codes of academic portraiture, seeking to convey their sitters extraordinary accomplishments. This painting, along with a variety of educational materials, toured nation-wide for ten years serving as a visual rebuttal to racism.
Commissioned by the Harmon Foundation, New York; gift 1967 to NPG.
Costume\Jewelry\Necklace  Search this
Nature & Environment\Clouds  Search this
Interior\Interior with Exterior View  Search this
Religious\Cross  Search this
Nature & Environment\Mountain  Search this
Marian Anderson: Female  Search this
Marian Anderson: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Opera  Search this
Marian Anderson: Education\Educator\Teacher\Music  Search this
Marian Anderson: Presidential Medal of Freedom  Search this
Marian Anderson: Congressional Gold Medal  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Estate of Laura Wheeler Waring
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery