The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers

November 3, 2017 – September 3, 2018

Russian Steel Workers / Lewis Wickes Hine / 1909 (printed 1942) / Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard / Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts. Transfer from Hillyer Art Library

National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, West Wing

See on Map Floor Plan

The Sweat of Their Face combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art. Artists such as Winslow Homer, Dorothea Lange, Elizabeth Catlett, and Lewis Hine depict laborers throughout the changing landscape of America; from child and slave laborers to miners, railway and steel workers, to the modern gradual disappearance of the worker. Approximately 70 objects in all media (including video) highlight a point of connection between the artists and their predominately anonymous subjects.

This exhibition features loans from such notable institutions as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Phillips Collection, and The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among others. This exhibition is curated by Senior Historian and Director of Scholarly Programs David C. Ward and Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss. An accompanying catalogue will feature essays from both curators, as well as British art historian John Fagg.