American Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Katharine Hepburn, painted by Everett Raymond Kintsler, 1982, Smithsonian Institute of Art, Washington DC

Katharine Hepburn, painted by Everett Raymond Kintsler, 1982, Smithsonian Institute of Art, Washington DC. (Used by permission of the artist)

In moving slowly through the wonderful American Portrait Gallery in Washington, this artwork of Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003), painted by her friend Everett Raymond Kinstler (born 1926) caught my eye. Kinstler is one of America’s foremost portrait painters – the National Portrait Gallery has acquired 75 of his works for its permanent collection, and in 1999 it awarded him the Copley Medal, its highest honour.

I believe the work portrays Hepburn’s charm and strength of character, and the new kind of feminine presence in Hollywood at the time. She was an instant screen success, winning four Best Actress Oscars, the first for Morning Glory in 1933. The Philadelphia Story (1940) revived her career, after a short down-spell, and she then co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen (1951), and won an Oscar for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). She also won awards for The Lion in Winter (1967) and On Golden Pond (1981). This portrait by Kinstler was said to be her favourite and I was thrilled to be given permission by Mr Kinstler to show his painting in my blog.