The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers
November 3, 2017 - September 3, 2018
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Painting of man working at a forge
Pat Lyon at the Forge by John B. Neagle / Oil on canvas, 1829 / Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; gift of the Lyon family (1842.1)
“The Sweat of Their Face” combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art. Artists such as Winslow Homer, Dorothea Lange, Elizabeth Catlett and Lewis Hine depict laborers throughout the changing landscape of America; from child and slave laborers to miners, railway and steel workers, to the modern gradual disappearance of the worker. Approximately 75 objects in all media (including video) highlight a point of connection between the artists and their predominately anonymous subjects.
Tommy (Holding His Bootblack Kit) by Jacob Riis / Modern gelatin silver print from dry plate negative, c. 1890 (printed from original negative, 1994) Museum of the City of New York, New York City; gift of Roger William Riis, 1990
This exhibition will feature loans from such notable institutions as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Phillips Collection and The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among others.
Grape Picker, Berryessa Valley, California, 1956, from 'Portfolio Two' by Pirkle Jones / Gelatin silver print, 1956 ? Bank of America Collection © Special Collections, University Library, University of Santa Cruz: Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch Photographs
Child Labor, c. 1908 by Lewis Wickes Hine / Gelatin silver print, c. 1908 Bank of America Collection
This exhibition is curated by Portrait Gallery Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss and Historian Emeritus, David C. Ward. An accompanying catalogue will feature essays from both curators, as well as British art historian John Fagg.