New Year: Take Inspiration from Portrait Gallery Subjects

This blogpost originally appeared on Dec. 26, 2018.  It seems especially appropriate as we look forward, with hope, to 2021.

Happy New Year! A new year can offer new beginnings, new possibilities, and new opportunities for a better and brighter future. Need some inspiration to get your New Year off to the right start? Let these quotes by prominent figures represented in the National Portrait Gallery's collection encourage you as you venture into 2019.

Oprah Winfrey by Brigitte Lacombe, 2009 (printed 2012); Archival pigment print, 18 1/16 x 18 1/16 in.;
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © Brigitte Lacombe

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”—Oprah Winfrey


Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson by Allen & Rowell Studio, c. 1875; Albumen silver print, 5 15/16 x 3 15/16 in.; 
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald (with Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and Milt Jackson) by William Paul Gottlieb, 1947 (printed later); Gelatin silver print; 13 1/16 × 10 1/2 in.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Lisa Ruthel and Anup Mahurka

“It isn’t where you came from; it's where you’re going that counts.​”—Ella Fitzgerald


Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou by Brigitte Lacombe, 1987 (printed 2012); Inkjet print, 17 13/16 x 17 5/8; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © Brigitte Lacombe

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”—Maya Angelou 


Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt by Yousuf Karsh, 1944; Gelatin silver print, 12 3/8 x 10 1/16; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh. © Estate of Yousuf Karsh 

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”—Eleanor Roosevelt


Albert Einstein by Lucien Aigner, 1940; Gelatin silver print, 13 9/16 x 10 5/8 in.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Transfer from the National Museum of American History

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”—Albert Einstein


Barack Obama
Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley, 2018; Oil on canvas, 84 1/8 × 57 7/8 × 1 1/4 in.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © 2018 Kehinde Wiley

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”—Barack Obama