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Marilyn Monroe

Boris Chaliapin, 1904 - May 1979
Marilyn Monroe, 1 Jun 1926 - 5 Aug 1962
Gouache and watercolor with graphite pencil on illustration board
Sight (Verified): 51.4 x 38.1 cm (20 1/4 x 15")
Mat (Verified): 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
Frame (Verified): 74.6 x 59.1 x 3.2 cm (29 3/8 x 23 1/4 x 1 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Chris Murphy
Object number
Exhibition Label
When Marilyn Monroe appeared on Time’s cover in May 1956, Boris Chaliapin had become Time magazine’s favorite cover artist for portraying alluring actresses of the cinema. His divas included Olivia de Havilland, Jean Simmons, and Tallulah Bankhead in 1948; Elizabeth Taylor in 1949; Katharine Hepburn in 1952; Audrey Hepburn in 1953; and Grace Kelly in 1955. Yet when it came to celluloid sensuality, Marilyn Monroe had become Hollywood’s favorite box-office draw. As Time’s cover story reported, "Monroe is for the millions a figure of fantasy rather than flesh. She offers the tease without the squeeze." Still, Chaliapin’s portrait of Monroe subtly captures a deeper character trait that was real and genuine under the mascara—her fawnlike vulnerability. One reader described it as "that wistful appeal for something higher than physical attraction."
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection