Upcoming Programs

Special Online Programs for September—November

All events are held virtually during the National Portrait Gallery’s temporary closure due to COVID-19.


Queen in 17th century regalia
Queen Margaret of Spain (detail) by Andrés López Polanco, oil on canvas, 1610. The Art Institute of Chicago. Image Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago


Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain: Power, Femininity and Portraiture in the Court of Felipe III

Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 5:00 p.m. EST
Online via Zoom

Join Ross Karlan, world languages educator at the Geffen Academy at UCLA, as he examines a series of portraits of Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain (1584–1611) by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz and Andrés López Polanco. This series, painted between 1605 and 1910, is known for its elaborate representations of Queen Margaret in her crown jewels and elegant clothing. However, the portraits also represent the queen as a strong female ruler. Pantoja de la Cruz and Polanco portray her as both virtuous and feminine as well as politically cunning. This balance was particularly delicate within the contexts of dynastic factions, political alliances, and the rebirth of Spain’s royal portrait collection after it was destroyed in the fire at the Royal Palace in 1604. This presentation is part of the Edgar P. Richardson Lecture Series, which is hosted by PORTAL, the Portrait Gallery's Scholarly Center. The Edgar P. Richardson Lecture Series takes place biennially and is made possible by the generous support of the Edgar P. Richardson Fund.

Free—Registration required.

hands twisting newspaper
 “Birthright” by Maren Hassinger, video, color, sound, (12:12 mins), 2005. Edition of 3 plus 2 artist’s proofs. Courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.


IDENTIFY: Maren Hassinger with Charlotte Ickes 

Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Online via Zoom  

Join New York-based artist Maren Hassinger for an online screening of her video “Birthright” (2005), sponsored by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. “Birthright” unfolds around a central encounter between the artist and her uncle, whom she meets for the first time. The twelve-minute video documents Hassinger learning about her father’s family history--what the artist describes as a “history of a Black family in the aftermath of slavery.” During the virtual event, Hassinger will teach attendees how to twist newspaper, a meditative ritual she performs throughout the course of the video. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own newspaper to the screening and conversation. This event anticipates Hassinger’s related performance next spring, commissioned by National Portrait Gallery as part of its IDENTIFY series dedicated to performance art and portraiture. 

Free—Registration required

African American artist at her easel
Loïs Mailou Jones with Carolyn Dorinda Jones (detail) by Robert S. Scurlock, gelatin silver print, 1950. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. © Archives Center, National Museum of American History  


Marking the Middle: Loïs Mailou Jones's Mid-Century Portrait Practice

Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 5:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom

During her lengthy career, African American painter Loïs Mailou Jones (1905–1998) created work in a variety of genres. Portraiture played a pivotal role in her artistic practice, from her days as an art student in 1920s Boston and her time in late 1930s Paris to her forty-five-year tenure at Howard University, and beyond. In this talk, Rebecca VanDiver will examine the ways in which Jones's mid-century portrait practice enabled the artist to mark her place in the middle of the increasingly Afro-Diasporic cultural and social scenes of Paris, Washington, D.C., and Port-au-Prince.

Free–Registration required

painting of a nude woman on a couch
Nude Sitting on a Sofa (detail) by Suzanne Valadon, oil on canvas, 1916. The Weisman & Michel Collection 

Suzanne Valadon: An Artist on View

Tuesday, October 20 |  5:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom

Marie-Clémentine Valadon (1865–1938), who began her career as a popular artist’s model after a difficult childhood, defied the odds to become a successful painter. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec even gave her the nickname “Suzanne,” after the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders, in which two old men prey on a beautiful bathing woman. 
Valadon began exhibiting her prints and drawings in the 1880s, and in the twentieth century enjoyed considerable commercial success. Reactions to her bohemian lifestyle, however, marred her critical reception. Thus, this lecture will explore how Valadon effectively exchanged one kind of scrutiny for another. 

Free–Registration required

painting of a woman in a white dress with a red wrap and flowered headband
Self-Portrait (detail) by María Izquierdo, oil on canvas,1940. Colección Andrés Blaisten  

The Veil and the Rebozo: Fashioning Identity in the Self-Portraits of María Izquierdo

Tuesday, Oct. 27 |  5:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom

In her self-portraits, the painter María Izquierdo boldly proclaimed herself a member of the new generation of women artists that shaped Mexican culture after the revolution of 1910–20. By wearing clothing associated with Mexico’s Indigenous communities, Izquierdo joined her contemporaries in asserting the integral role of these Native cultures in Mexico’s new national identity. At the same time, her interest in portraiture and the utilization of her own, often ambiguous, visual language, set Izquierdo apart from the cultural production of the wider Mexican art world, which was driven by nationalist interests. 

Free–Registration required

African American woman in a red dress
Marian Anderson (detail) by Laura Wheeler Waring, oil on canvas, 1944. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation. © Estate of Laura Wheeler Waring

Combating Racism: Betsy Graves Reyneau, Laura Wheeler Waring, and Representation of Black Achievement

Tuesday, Nov. 10 | 5:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom

In the 1943, the Harmon Foundation commissioned artists Betsy Graves Reyneau and Laura Wheeler Waring to make portraits of eminent Black Americans capable of highlighting black achievement and fighting white prejudice. These forty-two paintings were first shown at the Smithsonian in 1944. This discussion revisits this exhibition, exploring the intersection of gender, philanthropy, Black history and African American art during and just after World War II to showing the complex formation of this exhibition. It also seeks to understand the work within the broader context of Americanness during the Second World War.  

Free–Registration required