Stretcher: 92.7 x 72.4 x 2.5cm (36 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 1")
Frame: 106 x 85.4 x 6.4cm (41 3/4 x 33 5/8 x 2 1/2")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of Mary W. Harriman, 1920
For Scottish-born naturalist John Muir, the unchecked exploitation of America's natural resources in the late nineteenth century was a tragedy. With his gifts for repartee, descriptive writing, and summarizing the essence of issues, he played a decisive role in protecting such areas of the American West as the Yosemite Valley, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest. Founder of the Sierra Club, active lobbyist, and author of numerous articles and such books as Our National Parks (1901), Muir became America's leading conservationist. During Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, he led the effort to preserve some 148 million acres of forest.
This portrait's pensive quality reflects Muir's lifelong preference for solitude. Of the urban environment, he once said, "Often I thought I would like to explore the city, if, like a lot of wild hills and valleys, it was cleared of inhabitants."
Mrs. Mary Williamson Averell Harriman [Mrs. Edward Henry Harriman, 1851-1932], New York; gift December 1919 for National Portrait Gallery; transferred from NCFA 1965.