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The Café and Courtyard will be closed Sunday, Nov. 17 in preparation for a special event. The museums will close at 5:00 pm, at which point visitors will be directed to exit through the building’s F street lobby. The G street exit and ramp will remain accessible to those who need it. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thelonious Monk

Boris Chaliapin, 1904 - May 1979
Thelonious Sphere Monk, 10 Oct 1917 - 17 Feb 1982
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 53.3 x 38.1 x 2.5cm (21 x 15 x 1")
Frame: 65.4 x 49.8 x 6cm (25 3/4 x 19 5/8 x 2 3/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Chris Murphy
Object number
Thelonious Sphere Monk: American\African American
Exhibition Label
Born Rocky Mount, North Carolina
A leader of the postwar jazz revolution, Thelonious Monk—along with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker—sparked the “bebop” movement, a jazz style faster and more frenetic than the swing that had held sway since the thirties. Monk’s piano style has been called eccentric: “his melodies were angular, his harmonies full of jarring clusters.” His recording career took off in the mid-1950s, and he won an enthusiastic following, often playing with such other avant-garde musicians as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. His compositions “Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” and “Epistrophy” are considered classics of modern jazz.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
On View
NPG, South Gallery 322 Mezzanine