Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Director and Senior Historian Spotlight Newly Acquired Painting of Truman and Portraiture's Value in Illuminating History

National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet unveils a reproduction of its latest addition, a 1945 portrait of Harry S. Truman purchased with support from the William T. Kemper Foundation. The gallery’s senior historian, David C. Ward, discusses portraiture’s value as both art and a window into history.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Program: 
6:30 pm
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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has a unique mission among U.S. museums: to reveal biography and history through the portraits of the men and women who have had a decisive impact on American society from the country’s origins to the present day. From grand manner-style oil paintings to the latest video installation, Senior Historian David C. Ward gives a virtual tour of the Portrait Gallery’s collection, discussing the ways portraiture works both as an artistic statement and as a visual portal into past times and lives.

Additionally, National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet outlines plans for the museum as it approaches its 50th anniversary and announces the latest addition to the America’s Presidents exhibition: a portrait of Harry S. Truman purchased with support from the William T. Kemper Foundation. A reproduction of the portrait, which will hang permanently in the Truman Forum, will be unveiled as part of the evening’s program.

Co-sponsored by the W.T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee.

Mon, 01/05/2015
Courtney Lewis,816.701.3669
Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Director and Senior <br> Historian Spotlight Newly Acquired Painting of Truman and Portraiture's <br> Value in Illuminating History

(Kansas City, Missouri) - Almost 70 years after it was painted by a fellow Missouri native, a life-size portrait of Harry S. Truman is taking its place in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

To mark the new addition - and spotlight the museum and its mission of presenting the nation's history through portraiture - gallery Director Kim Sajet and Senior Historian David C. Ward visit the Library's Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, at 6:30 p.m.

Saget, who has overseen the National Portrait Gallery for almost two years, will unveil a reproduction of the newly acquired Truman portrait and outline plans for the gallery as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2018. Ward will discuss the ways in which portraiture works as both an artistic statement and as a visual portal to past times and lives.

The original oil painting of Truman was purchased with support from Kansas City's William T. Kemper Foundation and will go on display in the National Portrait Gallery in 2015. The reproduction will hang permanently in the Library's Truman Forum.

Truman posed for the portrait in the Cabinet Room of the White House shortly after becoming president in 1945. The artist was Jay Wesley Jacobs, born in Carthage, Missouri, a little more than two hours south of Truman's hometown of Independence.

Life magazine featured the piece in a November 1945 edition, noting that "Truman himself likes the portrait, especially the eyes, but thinks it is too flattering. Mrs. Truman says she is crazy about it because it looks just like him."

The publication added, "The President did not commission the portrait. It is being paid for by an old friend and it was planned to give the finished painting to members of the Senate where Truman has always had a lot of friends and where, now, he needs friends more than ever."

Jacobs was one of the first artists to get Truman to sit for a portrait.

The painting now joins the National Portrait Gallery and its America's Presidents exhibition, the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House. The gallery has a unique mission among U.S. museums: to reveal biography and history through the portraits of the men and women who have had an impact on American society, from the country's origins to the present day.

Sajet has served as its director since April 2013. Formerly the president and CEO of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and senior vice president and deputy director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art museum and school in the country, she holds a master's degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College. She also earned both a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's in art history from Melbourne University Business School in Australia.

Born in Nigeria, Sajet was raised in Australia and is a citizen of the Netherlands.

Ward joined the National Portrait Gallery as a historian in 1981 and was appointed senior historian in November 2013. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester and has graduate degrees from England's Warwick University and Yale University.

Their presentation is co-presented by the W.T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank-Trustee.

A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.

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