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The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld

May 22, 2015
October 12, 2015

Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) brought a set of visual conventions to the task of performance portraiture when he made his debut in 1926. His signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style made his name a verb to be "Hirschfelded" was a sign that one has arrived. Now for the first time, nine decades of his art are collected in The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld documenting Hirschfeld's life and career and, to a great extent, the history of the performing arts in the twentieth century and beyond.  

Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003), Ringo Starr in The Magic Christian. 1969, ink on board, Collection of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation

The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld examines his influences, his iconography, and his techniques, from his earliest works to his last drawings. Visitors will have the opportunity to trace this unique artist's evolution by viewing his own body of work, including drawings, paintings, selections from sketchbooks, ephemera, and video. The exhibition is being organized in partnership with the Al Hirschfeld Foundation and is guest-curated by David Leopold, the Foundation's Archivist.

The Art of Al Hirschfeld was organized by Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, President of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, and the New-York Historical Society, and was curated by David Leopold, Archivist of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation.

Leadership support for The Art of Al Hirschfeld has been provided by the The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, Lewis B. Cullman and Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Edwin Schloss, and Janine Luke, in memory of Melvin Seidin.

Major support provided by Patty & Jay Baker Foundation, The Leo Kerz Family/Jonathan, Antony, Leslie & Grandchildren, Bernard & Irene Schwartz,  Sue Ann Weinberg; Lawrence B. Benenson, A G Foundation/Agnes Gund, The Robert and Joyce Menschel Family Foundation, Martin A. Packouz, and Jujamcyn Theaters/Jordan Roth & Paul Libin.

Additional support from Donal A. Pels Charitable Trust, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, Kathy Hayes, Alan & Betsy Cohn, Jamie DeRoy, The Ronald & Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, Cameron MacIntosh Foundation, The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation/Enid Nemy, Bruce E. Surry and Lynn Surry, Anita & Byron Wien, Larry Condon, Harry P. Kamen Family Foundation, and The Mortimer Levitt Foundation.

Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America Gallery Tour

Barbara Dayer Gallati
Mon, 10/07/2013 - 13:30
Mon, October 7th, 2013 | 1:30 pm


With the amassing of great fortunes founded on industrial expansion came the impetus to document the appearance of those who propelled and benefited from burgeoning wealth, echoing a cultural pattern reaching back to the colonial era. Join curator Barbara Dayer Gallati and explore the social legacy of the American portrait tradition through this remarkable exhibition, which focuses on the resurgence of portraiture in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gallery tours are limited to 35 guests per tour. Please buy tickets in advance.

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From Colony to Nation: 200 Years of American Painting at the New-York Historical Society

June 07, 2013
September 08, 2013

This exhibition of American art, drawn from the New-York Historical Society's venerable collections, presents a chronological and thematic survey of masterworks ranging in date from 1720 to 1917. Included are Colonial, Federal, and Gilded Age portraits; Hudson River School landscapes; marine and maritime paintings, with a focus on works inspired by the War of 1812; and genre, history, and narrative subjects.

Thomas Buttersworth (English, 1758-1842), Escape of H.M.S. Belvidera from the U.S. Frigate President, ca. 1815, Oil on canvas, 16 x 22 in. (40.6 x 55.9 cm), Bequest of Irving S. Olds, 1963.58

Woven throughout the installation are a medley of artist portraits that traces American masters from Benjamin West’s London studio to the mid-nineteenth century ateliers of New York. Highlights include works by Gerardus Duyckinck, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Birch, Thomas Buttersworth, William Sidney Mount, John F. Kensett, John Singer Sargent and Childe Hassam.

The Dream Continues: Photographs of Martin Luther King Murals by Vergara

January 18, 2013
May 05, 2013

Since the 1970s Camilo Vergara has been traveling across the United States photographing and thus documenting hand-painted murals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they appeared on the walls of establishments such as car repair shops, barbershops, and fast food restaurants in city streets and alley ways. The folk art portraits have expressed how the inner-city residents saw the slain civil rights leader—at times a statesman, a hero, a visionary, or a martyr. Vergara also discovered that these images were often based on iconic photographs of Dr. King but that, depending upon the neighborhood where they were created, the portraits could take on the likeness of Latinos, Native Americans, or Asians.

Camilo José Vergara , Untitled, 2009, Frederick Douglass at West 154 th Street, Harlem, New York.  Digital c-print. Collection of the artist.

Vergara remarked about his work that “most murals and street portraits of Dr. King are ephemeral. Paint fades, businesses change hands and neighborhood demographics shift. Gradually, images reflecting the culture and values of poor communities are lost….Often, my photographs are the only lasting record of these public works of art.” This exhibition offers the opportunity to study the manner in which Martin Luther King, Jr. has reached into the hearts of artists from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to Detroit, and how the artists’s images have depicted the soul of the great civil rights leader in a manner that reaches out to communities nation-wide.

Camilo Vergara will donate all of the works in The Dream Continues: Photographs of Martin Luther King Murals by Vergara to the New-York Historical Society after the close of the exhibition. For more information on Camilo Vergara, visit his website.

Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America

September 27, 2013
March 09, 2014

Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America examines the remarkable critical and popular resurgence of portraiture in the United States during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. The exhibition —presenting over sixty works of art as well as period photographs and graphic materials, all from the New-York Historical Society—will investigate the strong cultural and social legacy of the American portrait tradition, with particular emphasis upon the New York sitters so well represented in New-York Historical's rich collection. With the amassing of great fortunes founded on industrial expansion, came the impetus to document the appearance of those who propelled and benefited from burgeoning wealth, thus echoing a cultural pattern reaching back to the colonial era.

Théobald Chartran (French, 1849 –1907), James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), 1901. Oil on canvas. New-York Historical  Society, Gift of James Hazen Hyde, 1949.1

Beauty’s Legacy will include portraits of prominent New York sitters including Emma Thursby, Samuel Verplanck Hoffman, Mary Barrett Wendell, Reverend Henry Codman Potter, and Mary Gardiner Thompsonby done by such American artists as John Singer Sargent, James Carroll Beckwith, George Peter Alexander Healy, Daniel Huntington, Eastman Johnson, and Benjamin Curtis Porter. Paintings of other New Yorkers including James Hazen Hyde, Georgina Schuyler, Samuel Ward McAllister, Cortlandt Field Bishop, Leonard and Rosalie Lewisohn, and Samuel Untermyer by Léon Bonnat, Bouguereau, Carolus-Duran, Alexandre Cabanel, Anders Zorn, and Théobald Chartran reflect the vigorous American demand for portraits by European artists.

A selection of twenty-five miniature portraits of reigning social celebrities from Peter Marié’s Beauties of The Gilded Age will also be displayed. Deepening the historical context of these works, photographs and graphic materials will document the opulent residences built for the sitters and their images in fancy dress for lavish costume balls and society weddings. In addition, advertising graphics will record the fashions and cosmetics popular among the belles of New York society.

A catalogue will accompany the exhibition which will include essays by Dr. Gallati as well as Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology. It will be published by the New-York Historical Society in association with D Giles Limited, London.

Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902)

Object name: 
Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902)
Oil on canvas
Charles L. Tiffany founded the famous silver and jewelry firm Tiffany & Co. in 1837. The business began as a small stationery and gift shop, Tiffany and Young. This portrait depicts the young entrepreneur in 1840, before his firm became a major retailer of fine silver.
Credit Line: 
New-York Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Comfort Tiffany Gilder
Object Number: 
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
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