Abraham Archibald Anderson, 1847 - 1940
Thomas Alva Edison, 11 Feb 1847 - 18 Oct 1931
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 114.3 x 138.7 x 2.5cm (45 x 54 5/8 x 1")
Frame: 157.5 x 181.8 x 9.8cm (62 x 71 9/16 x 3 7/8")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of Eleanor A. Campbell to the Smithsonian Institution, 1942
Restrictions & Rights
Born Milan, Ohio
Painted during Thomas Alva Edison's visit to Paris for the Universal Exposition of 1889, Abraham A. Anderson's portrait depicts the wealthy entrepreneur at the height of his career. World-renowned for his inventions-including the phonograph, incandescent lamp, and movie camera-Edison, who received numerous honors in Europe, presided over one of the most popular exhibitions at the exposition. Particularly intriguing to audiences was Edison's phonograph, the recent improvement of which Anderson chose to picture. Although Edison patented the device in 1877, earning himself the title of the "Wizard of Menlo Park," eleven years passed before he achieved sufficient clarity of sound to make it commercially viable. Using the word "specie" as a test, Edison labored until it could be properly transmitted. "When that was done," Edison reported, "I knew everything else could be done, which was a fact."
The artist; his daughter Eleanor A. Campbell, Scarsdale, New York; gift 1942 to NCFA; transferred 1965 to NPG.