painting of an astronaut in spacesuit against a black background
John Glenn by Henry C. Casselli, Jr. / 1998,Graphite and watercolor on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Taylor Energy Company LLC /© Henry C. Casselli, Jr.

In Memoriam: John Glenn

Portrait on view from December 9, 2016 - January 8, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrates the accomplishments of astronaut and Senator John Glenn with a watercolor and graphite portrait by Henry C. Caselli Jr. The sketch, made from life in 1998, depicts Glenn in a moment of reflection before the launch of the space shuttle Discovery for its nine-day mission in 1988; it made him the oldest astronaut to reach space at the age of 77.  The portrait is installed in the museum’s In Memoriam space on the first floor and will be on view until January 9.

A military pilot who distinguished himself in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn came to widespread public attention as one of the Mercury Seven, the original group of astronauts chosen to participate in the American effort to explore outer space. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Retiring from the space program two years later, he participated in a number of successful business ventures and in 1974 was elected as a senator from his native Ohio; he served four consecutive terms. For the next several decades, he became one of the Senate’s most respected and influential members.

  • Group portrait of eight young to middle-aged men gathered around a console at the Cape Canaveral control center.
    Mercury Seven Astronauts ( Scott Carpenter, Walter Shirra, Virgil Grissom, Alan Shepard, Jr., John Glenn, Donald Slayton, Gordon Cooper) by Flip Schulke , 1961, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / ©Flip Schulke Archives
  • Astronaut in a spacesuit peering around the globe with a space capsule in the background
    John Glenn by Boris Artzybasheff / 1962, Tempera, ink and pencil on Masonite / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine/ © Boris Artzybasheff
  • Man in a coat and dark gloves giving a thumbs-up
    John Glenn by George Tames / 1962, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Frances O. Tames / © The New York Times/George Tames
  • Young astronaut in a NASA flightsuit
    John Glenn by Yousuf Karsh / 1968, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh / © Estate of Yousuf Karsh
  • Painting of an older astronaut in an orange flightsuit against a black background
    John Glenn by Henry C. Casselli, Jr. / 1998, Graphite and watercolor on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Taylor Energy Company LLC / © Henry C. Casselli, Jr.