The National Portrait Gallery is open to the public Wed - Sun, with timed-entry passes required for all visitors. On-site tours and events are currently suspended and all public programs will be online
Paolo Garretto's witty depiction of Fritz Kreisler is an aptly disembodied portrait for a musician whose fame rests as much on his recordings as on his physical stage presence. The Viennese-born violinist's reputation was well established in the first decade of the twentieth century, particularly in America, where tours fueled an enthusiastic popular following. But his 1910 recording contract with the Victor Phonograph Company gave him a previously unimaginable degree of renown.
Garretto's portrait, drawn on a thin piece of wood veneer against an airbrushed color background, reflects his exposure to Italian futurism, French art deco design, and surrealist imagery. Under Garretto's hands, noted one contemporary, "persons become moving puppets. . . . [His] drawings might really be called . . . marvelous surrealistic toys for adults." This playful merging of man and violin appeared in Vanity Fair magazine in 1934.