Where in the World Do Our Images Go?

Every day, the National Portrait Gallery’s Office of Rights and Reproductions receives image requests from all over the world. Researchers, educators, and members of the public reach out to the Portrait Gallery, hoping to use reproductions from our permanent collection in support of their scholarship, education, and personal enrichment. While publications are our most common request, you can also find the Portrait Gallery’s images being used in a wide variety of other projects, including broadcast television, international and domestic exhibitions, and educational websites.

Here are some examples of how images from our collection have been presented and enjoyed outside our museum’s galleries:

“I’ll take the National Portrait Gallery for $200, Alex”

NPG building with Jeopardy over the photo

On May 19, 2017, the National Portrait Gallery was one of the featured categories on Jeopardy!  This episode was the finale for the popular Teacher’s Tournament, where show contestants are all full-time K-12 teachers. The Portrait Gallery’s category highlighted five portraits from the museum’s collection of diverse men and women who have influenced American history and culture, including Martha Washington, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Amelia Earhart.

David Glasgow Farragut on a Spanish Stamp

Portrait of Farragut
David Glasgow Farragut by William Swain, 1838, oil on canvas, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Museum of American History; Gift of the Estate of Loyall Farragut to the United States National Museum, 1917
Farragut Stamp
CORREOS presented a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s last trip to Spain.

This past June, CORREOS, the postal service of Spain, presented a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s last trip to Spain. This stamp features a detail of the Portrait Gallery’s very own painting of David Glasgow Farragut (1838) by William Swain. The son of a Spanish immigrant, Farragut commanded the West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War. Sailing in the flagship USS Hartford on April 24, 1862, Farragut led his fleet of seventeen vessels in a successful run by the Confederate defenses, engaged and defeated the enemy flotilla, and captured New Orleans. Rear Admiral Farragut spent the next two years blockading the Gulf Coast and maintaining Union control over the lower Mississippi before preparing for the capture of the Mobile Bay defenses in August 1864. By month’s end, Farragut’s fleet had forced the Confederate surrender. After the Civil War, Farragut became the first admiral of the United States Navy. On a diplomatic mission to Spain, Queen Elizabeth II received Farragut in Madrid and he visited Menorca, the birthplace of his father.  The new stamp was made possible by The Legacy, an organization that is “dedicated to bringing attention to the significance of Spain’s historical and cultural contributions to the United States.”

A notable publication about Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau A Life Cover
Cover of  the biography Henry David Thoreau: A Life

Published on the 200th anniversary of his birth, Henry David Thoreau: A Life traces Thoreau’s life beyond Walden Pond. On the cover of this extensive biography is the Portrait Gallery’s very own daguerreotype by Benjamin Maxham. When an admirer wrote from Michigan in 1856 asking for Thoreau’s daguerreotype and enclosing money to defray its cost, the author reluctantly obliged. A visit to Maxham’s Daguerrean Palace yielded this 50-cent portrait, which Thoreau sent to the requestor, along with the $1.70 in change. 

An International Exhibition

Curtis Self-portrait
Self Portrait by Edward Curtis, 1899, Gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Wide varieties of international and domestic museums have highlighted reproductions from our collection in their exhibitions and exhibition-related publications. In September 2017, the Georgia National Museum, the State Silk Museum and Art Palace of Georgia opened an exhibition titled, Edward Curtis and the North American Indian. Each venue highlighted a different aspect of Native American life captured by Curtis’s photography: a changing homeland, daily life, and creative expression of spiritual beliefs.  For more than thirty years, Edward S. Curtis traveled throughout the West, studying and photographing Native American communities. 

With encouragement from Theodore Roosevelt and financial support from banker J. P. Morgan, Curtis created more than forty thousand photographs that pictured many aspects of Native American life. Influenced by fine art photography, he emphasized aesthetics as much as ethnographic information.

The exhibition project was organized as a collaborative effort by the three museums, Georgian-American University and the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. Three portraits from the Portrait Gallery’s collection were reproduced for the introductory section of the exhibit, including Edward Curtis’s self-portrait.  For more information, check out the exhibition’s website and the U.S. Embassy’s press release

Are you interested in a particular portrait for your project or personal use? To request high-resolution digital images, visit the Office of Rights and Reproductions web page and fill out the Image Request Form.