Catalog of American Portraits

The CAP is closed until further notice; however, you can continue to use our online portrait search below. Please continue to check back frequently for updates.

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. A small number of portrait records are accompanied by images. Please note that these images are for study purposes only, and any requests for reproductions must be directed to portrait owners. Last-known owners, if any, are specified within the portrait records. Private collections are kept confidential when requested by the owner.

Advanced Search (Smithsonian Collections Search Center)

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

When the archive reopens, 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).

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.

View our Guide to Research Resources for Portraiture, Biography, and History:
>> Guide to Research Resources (.pdf)