Making American Artists: Stories from PAFA, 1776–1976

Exhibition Info
Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building
Curated by
Dr. Anna Marley, Kenneth R. Woodcock Curator of Historical American Art;
Prior Reinhardt, Curatorial Administration Support
(Re)Discover your favorite works in American Art.

With over one hundred of the most acclaimed and iconic pieces in American art on display, Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1776–1976 takes you on a journey across time, medium, and identity.

The exhibition offers new narratives in American art history, embracing stories about women artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists of color. It also poses central questions about the artist’s experience: what did it mean to be an American artist when the nation was founded? How had that changed by the late-twentieth century?

Organized by theme—portraiture, history painting, still life, genre scenes, and landscape—and not chronology, the exhibition affords the opportunity to enjoy familiar works in a new light and find new favorites.

Each of the featured artists’ careers were shaped by PAFA, whether through their education or the exhibition and display of their work. Making American Artists critically re-examines PAFA’s legacy while shedding light on its continuing role in shaping American art of the twenty-first century.

Making American Artists is also your final chance to see these beloved works before they temporarily leave PAFA on a national exhibition tour, organized by the American Federation of Arts, from June 2023–May 2025. Discover more >> American Federation of Arts.

Exhibition Highlights

Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)​ George Washington at Princeton,  1779​
Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)​
George Washington at Princeton,  1779​
Oil on canvas​
93 x 58 1/2 in. (236.2 x 148.6 cm.)​
Gift of Maria McKean Allen and Phebe Warren Downes through the bequest of their mother, Elizabeth Wharton McKean, 1943.16.2​
James Brantley (b. 1945)​ Brother James, 1968​
James Brantley (b. 1945)​
Brother James, 1968​
Oil on canvas​
60 7/16 x 40 1/4 in. (153.5 x 102.2 cm.)​
John Lambert Fund, 1970.1
Horace Pippin (1888-1946) John Brown Going to his Hanging, 1942
Horace Pippin (1888-1946)
John Brown Going to his Hanging, 1942
Oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 30 1/4 in. (61.3 x 76.8 cm.)
John Lambert Fund, 1943.11
Alice Neel (1900-1984) Investigation of Poverty at the Russell Sage Foundation, 1933
Alice Neel (1900-1984)
Investigation of Poverty at the Russell Sage Foundation, 1933
Oil on canvas
24 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (61.2775 x 76.5175 cm.)
Art by Women Collection, Gift of Linda Lee Alter, 2010.27.2
© The Estate of Alice Neel, Courtesy David Zwirner, New York.
Margaretta Angelica Peale (1795-1882)​ Strawberries and Cherries, ca. 1813 1830​
Margaretta Angelica Peale (1795-1882)​
Strawberries and Cherries, ca. 1813 1830​
Oil on canvas​
10 1/16 x 12 1/8 in. (25.55875 x 30.7975 cm.)​
Source unknown, 1924.11
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)​ Red Canna, 1923​
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)​
Red Canna, 1923​
Oil on canvas​
12 x 9 7/8 in. (30.48 x 25.0825 cm.)​
The Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin Collection, Bequest of Vivian O. Potamkin, 2003.1.8​
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902) Mother and Child by the Hearth, 1867
Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902)
Mother and Child by the Hearth, 1867
Oil on canvas
34 1/2 x 27 1/4 in. (87.63 x 69.215 cm.)
Edna Andrade, Wyckoff, and Harriet B. Kravitz Funds, 2010.2
Edward L. Loper (1916-2011) Sunday Afternoon, 1948
Edward L. Loper (1916-2011)
Sunday Afternoon, 1948
Oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61.0 cm.)
Gift of Dr. George J. Roth, 1970.34
Thomas Moran (1837-1926) Two Women in the Woods, 1870
Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
Two Women in the Woods, 1870
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Orton P. Jackson Fund in memory of Emily Penrose Jackson, 2015.19
May Howard Jackson (1877-1931) Morris Heights, N.Y. City, 1912
May Howard Jackson (1877-1931)
Morris Heights, N.Y. City, 1912
Oil on linen canvas, mounted to wood panel
12 1/4 x 16 in. (31.115 x 40.64 cm.)
Museum Purchase, 2018.14

Exhibition Support

Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1776–1976 is made possible thanks to the following generous supporters and donors to PAFA’s Special Exhibitions Fund.

William Penn Foundation logo

 

 

 

 

Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation.

Major support is provided by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation. Generous support is provided by Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan. Additional support is provided by Linda Seyda and Robert Boris.

In-Kind support is provided by Christie’s and Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames, New York.

Donor lists as of September 15, 2022.