The Catalog of American Portraits (CAP) is a national portrait archive maintaining information and images for more than 200,000 American portraits in public and private collections throughout the United States and abroad. Nearly 100,000 CAP portrait records have been digitized and are searchable below.
The CAP was established in 1966, two years before the National Portrait Gallery opened to the public. The majority of CAP portrait records originated from a national portrait survey conducted in the 1970s through the 1990s. CAP portrait records contain a photograph of the portrait, standard catalog data, current ownership, provenance, and biographical sketches of subjects and artists. Often, archival correspondence and primary research material is included as well. The CAP also maintains a costume study of dated American portraits, from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.
Unfortunately, the physical CAP resources are currently unavailable to visitors, but they are being carefully preserved for future use. In the meantime CAP records can be searched via the Smithsonian Collections Search.
The Portrait Gallery is unable to assist with the research of images, or inquiries about, portraits in other collections.
The National Portrait Gallery gratefully acknowledges the Smithsonian Women’s Committee for its support of the Catalog of American Portraits.