Catalog of American Portraits

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.

Results will include National Portrait Gallery collection

What We Collect

Established in 1966, the CAP continues to acquire new material regularly.  The majority of our 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.

Our Services

The Catalog of American Portraits is currently closed for renovation but our online portrait search is up and running.

When the archive reopens in Summer, 2020, researchers may request assistance with searches by phone or e-mail, and may visit to examine manual files, by appointment, from Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (closed on federal holidays).

View our Guide to Research Resources for Portraiture, Biography, and History:

>> Guide to Research Resources (.pdf)

Images are for study purposes only, and any requests for reproductions must be directed to portrait owners. Information concerning private collections is restricted or kept confidential when requested by the owners. CAP staff cannot undertake extensive research for either individuals or institutions and are not permitted to provide certification of authenticity or to give appraisals. A nominal fee is charged for printing large reports and photocopying archival material.


How You Can Help

The CAP depends on the assistance of portrait owners, interns, and volunteers to continue building and updating the research collection.  If you would like to contribute information on portraiture from your private or institutional collection, download our  Portrait Survey Form (.pdf) and mail to:

Catalog of American Portraits
National Portrait Gallery
PO Box 37012
Victor Building Suite 410, MRC 973
Washington, DC 20013-7012