Smithsonian Collections

Liberace

Image for Liberace
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
When caricaturist Al Hirschfeld depicted Liberace in 1954, the pianist-wearing white tie and tails, and posed at a candelabra-bedecked concert grand-was television's reigning matinee idol: his weekly show was carried by 217 stations (more than I Love Lucy), and his concert tours sold out across the nation. He played popular music, favorite parlor songs, and classics "without the dull parts." Flamboyant costumes were added to his ostentatious style of performance. For the country's 1976 Bicentennial, he wore red, white, and blue hot pants and twirled a baton; for his 1984 appearances at Radio City Music Hall, he arrived on stage in a chauffeured Rolls Royce and danced with the Rockettes while draped in a $300,000 rhinestone-studded Norwegian blue fox cape with a sixteen-foot train. Liberace never forgot that "without the show, there is no business."
Artist
Al Hirschfeld, 21 Jun 1903 - 21 Jan 2003
Sitter
Liberace, 16 May 1919 - 4 Feb 1987
Date
1954
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Medium
Gouache over graphite on illustration board
Dimensions
Sheet: 56.6 x 51.8cm (22 5/16 x 20 3/8")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
Type
Drawing
Topic
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Costume\Jewelry\Ring
Interior\Performing Arts\Theatrical\Stage
Home Furnishings\Curtain
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Bowtie
Home Furnishings\Lighting Devices\Candelabra
Liberace: Male
Liberace: Performing Arts\Performer\Entertainer
Liberace: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Portrait
Restrictions & Rights
© Al Hirschfeld
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
NPG.2003.67
Culture
Liberace: American\Italian American