Painting of Duke Ellington

Description (Brief)
Acrylic on canvas painting of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, done by his granddaughter, Gaye Ellington in 1985. Ms. Ellington painted this posthumous portrait in order to create a memorial that preserved her sense of the creative and loving legacy her grandfather had left her.
In a past interview, Gaye Ellington explained the reasons that led her to create this portrait, even though portraiture is not her usual subject matter: “Ever since my grandfather had died, a lot of people had done art work representing him. They were what other people saw in my grandfather. When I looked at them, they weren’t what I thought about him, and it disturbed me. … A lot of the photographs of him where very serious. I’m not saying he was always happy. But he would turn around in a minute and smile.”
Currently not on view
date made
Ellington, Duke
Ellington, Gaye
Physical Description
canvas (overall material)
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 41 in x 40 in x 5 in; 104.14 cm x 101.6 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
African American
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Popular Entertainment
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History