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Maria Callas

Henry Koerner, 1915 - 1991
Maria Callas, 2 Dec 1923 - 16 Sep 1977
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 55.9 x 71.1 x 2.5cm (22 x 28 x 1")
Frame: 79.7 x 94.9 x 7.6cm (31 3/8 x 37 3/8 x 3")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
© Henry Koerner
Object number
Exhibition Label
In a postwar opera world that needed stars, Maria Callas was said to have "restored the ancient luster to the title of prima donna." Born in New York and raised in Greece, Callas, by sheer force of personality and artistry, rejuvenated the public's interest in this classic music genre. She created renewed attention to the bel canto works of Bellini and Donizetti, and influenced the next generation of singers, including Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, and Marilyn Horne. Part of Callas's cachet was her volcanic temperament-"I will always be as difficult as necessary to achieve the best"-which ultimately found her fired from the Metropolitan Opera and ostracized by the Chicago Lyric, among other companies. Her box office quotient was so high, however, that most eventually welcomed her back.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
On View
NPG, South Gallery 321 Mezzanine