Louis Armstrong

image for Louis Armstrong
Exhibition Label
Ben Shahn's 1956 drawing is one of a series commissioned by Edward R. Murrow and CBS producer Fred Friendly for a documentary on the legendary trumpeter, singer, and bandleader Louis Armstrong. Shahn had recently represented the United States at the Venice Biennale and been asked to give a prestigious series of lectures at Harvard. Armstrong was hitting even greater peaks of international renown. Performing in Europe in 1956, Armstrong and his band were sent by CBS on a historic side trip to Africa. In May Armstrong received worldwide attention performing for a huge crowd in Accra, Ghana. The African visit was an exhilarating experience for Armstrong, who felt especially connected to the Ghanaian people. Murrow's documentary was first edited for a television show and then released by United Artists as the documentary film Satchmo the Great (1957).
Ben Shahn, 12 Sep 1898 - 14 Mar 1969
Louis Armstrong, 4 Aug 1901 - 6 Jul 1971
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Ben Shahn/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
c. 1956
Object number
Louis Armstrong: Male
Louis Armstrong: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie
Louis Armstrong: Performing Arts\Performer\Comedian
Louis Armstrong: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Jazz
Louis Armstrong: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Louis Armstrong: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
Gouache on paper
Sheet: 30.9 x 25.3cm (12 3/16 x 9 15/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
National Portrait Gallery