Past Exhibition

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design (2019-2022)

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is the first exhibition to highlight a pivotal aspect of the collection of the National Academy of Design—the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with his or her diploma work.


The American Federation of Arts (AFA) is pleased to announce the national tour of For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design, an exhibition created in collaboration with the National Academy of Design (NAD). For America is the first exhibition to highlight the fundamental characteristic of the National Academy’s collection: the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with her or his representative work. The exhibition’s one hundred extraordinary paintings present not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership but a unique history of American painting from 1809 to the present.

The exhibition will tour to eight venues across the United States, bringing important paintings to audiences across the country while also enriching the dialogue of scholars, students, and artists of all ages with the firsthand experience of American masterpieces.

From its founding in 1825 to the present, the NAD has required all Academicians to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection, and, from 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required Associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist.

Artists in the exhibition: Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Emanuel Leutze, Ferdinand Thomas Lee Boyle, Edward Harrison May, George Henry Hall, Daniel Huntington, Eastman Johnson, Oliver Ingraham Lay, Winslow Homer, Elihu Vedder, Wyatt Eaton, William J. Whittemore, William Merritt Chase, Robert Frederick Blum, John Singer Sargent, Cecilia Beaux, Kenyon Cox, Maxfield Parrish, Thomas Eakins, Robert Reid, Childe Hassam, Frederick Carl Frieseke, J. Alden Weir, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Richard E. Miller, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Robert Henri, Daniel Garber, Gertrude Fiske, Mary Shepard Greene Blumenschein, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Walter Ufer, Ellen Emmet Rand, Guy C. Wiggins, Paul Sample, Isabel Bishop, Peter Hurd, John Steuart Curry, N. C. Wyeth, Reginald Marsh, Aaron Bohrod, Andrew Wyeth, Ivan Albright, Jules Kirschenbaum, Philip Pearlstein, Jane Freilicher, Hughie Lee-Smith, George Tooker, Richard Estes, Lois Dodd, May Stevens, Charles White, Will Barnet, Wayne Thiebaud, Reuben Tam, Rosemarie Beck, Paul Resika, Gretna Campbell, William Clutz, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Altoon Sultan, W. Lee Savage, James McGarrell, Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, David Kapp, Jacqueline Gourevitch, David Diao, Walter Hatke, Albert Kresch, Ann Gale, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Peter Saul.



Dayton Art Institute, OH
February 20, 2019–June 2, 2019
New Britain Museum of American Art, CT
October 16, 2019–January 26, 2020
The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
February 15, 2020–April 12, 2020
Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, TN
July 19, 2020–September 27, 2020
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
October 22, 2020–January 17, 2021
Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
February 20, 2021–May 16, 2021
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
July 3, 2021–October 3, 2021
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
November 6, 2021 –January 30, 2022


For information, contact Michael Neumeister at or 212.988.7700 ext. 257.


This exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated scholarly catalogue, which will provide an unprecedented glimpse into the past two centuries of American art, tracing artistic tradition and innovation at the National Academy of Design from its 19th-century founding to the present. By presenting artists’ portraits in tandem with their self-selected representative works, this book offers a unique opportunity to explore how American artists have viewed both themselves and the worlds they depicted. The diverse selection of artists whose work is showcased includes Frederic Edwin Church, Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Cecilia Beaux, Isabel Bishop, Andrew Wyeth, Charles White, Wayne Thiebaud, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, David Diao, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Peter Saul.

Essays by a stellar roster of distinguished historians and art historians, curators, artists, and architects delve into single artworks or pairs of paintings, while others explore themes such as the representation of landscapes and the figurative tradition in American art. Additionally, 17 current Academicians—including Catherine Opie and Fred Wilson—contribute personal responses to individual artworks. Contributors include Patricia Hills, Professor Emerita of American Art & African American Art, Boston University; Alexander Nemerov, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Stanford University; Susan Rather, Professor of Art History, University of Texas, Austin; and Akela Reason, Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia.

Publication available for purchase here.


Jeremiah William McCarthy is Curator at the National Academy of Design.
Diana Thompson is Director of Collections at the National Academy of Design.


For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the National Academy of Design. Support for the national tour is provided by the JFM Foundation, Monique Schoen Warshaw, and Steph & Jody La Nasa.