This "One Life" exhibition, is devoted to Thomas Paine (1737-1809) whose pamphlet Common Sense fired up Americans to get on with a declaration of independence and whose exhortation, "These are the times that try men's souls," General Washington read to his dispirited troops. The story begins in Philadelphia where Paine arrived in 1774, continues through his tumultuous years in England where his anti-monarchy diatribe, the Rights of Man brought charges of seditious libel and in revolutionary France where he barely escaped the guillotine. Paine, the author of The Age of Reason—a bold attack on organized religion—returned to America in 1802 to find himself scorned by his old associates and much of the public. He died in poverty, his bones were later stolen and dispersed, but his words have resounded down through the ages. Featured in the exhibition will be the museum's recently acquired portrait of Paine depicted by the French artist Laurent Dabos around 1792.
The exhibition has additional portraits not included in this Web site; it opened on August 7, 2009 and will close November 29, 2009.
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, tells the stories of America through the individuals who have shaped U.S. culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts, and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists who speak American history.
Location: The National Portrait Gallery is conveniently located at Eighth and F Streets, NW, in Washington D.C., above the Gallery Place–Chinatown Metrorail station (red, yellow, and green lines).
Museum Hours: 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. daily. Closed December 25. Admission: FREE. For more information on visiting the museum, please visit the National Portrait Gallery's Web site.