As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
John Pettie, 17 Mar 1839 - 21 Feb 1893
Bret Harte, 25 Aug 1836 - 5 May 1902
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 111.8 x 74 x 2.5cm (44 x 29 1/8 x 1")
Frame: 123.2 x 85.1 x 7.6cm (48 1/2 x 33 1/2 x 3")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
Through his short stories and essays, Bret Harte presented many Americans with their first taste of the society that the California gold rush had produced. In stories such as "The Luck of Roaring Camp" and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," Harte brought to life a colorful assortment of gamblers, miners, and other adventurers who, like him, had settled in California. Returning east in 1871, he found himself lionized as the West's signature writer. But Harte never felt any real kinship with the crude world he portrayed, and his later western stories paled in comparison to the crisply narrated tales that made him a celebrity. By 1878 Harte was sailing for Europe, where even his lesser works continued to find an appreciative audience. There he remained for the rest of his life, grinding out hackneyed variations of his original themes and settings.
“Mme. Van de Velde”; (M. Knoedler & Co., New York); purchased 1969 NPG.