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. Nearly 100,000 CAP portrait records have been digitized and are searchable below.

While the National Portrait Gallery collection is included in the CAP search, the majority of CAP records represent portraits in other collections. Over 18,000 of these records are accompanied by images, which are for study purposes only. Requests for reproductions of images or other portrait information must be directed to portrait owners. Ownership is specified within the portrait records; however, names of many private collectors are kept confidential, and ownership is not updated regularly.

Advanced Search (Smithsonian Collections Search Center)

Results will include National Portrait Gallery collection

CAP History and Resources

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, we hope that the CAP search online will continue to be useful to scholars and researchers of American portraiture.