Joel Smith, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography
Already one of the world’s most prominent bankers, Pierpont Morgan was fifty-one years old when he commissioned this portrait of himself in 1888. At that time, he lived with his wife, Frances Tracy Morgan, and their four children in a brownstone adjacent to this building.
In depicting his sitter, the British painter Frank Holl downplayed Morgan’s skin condition, called rhinophyma, which would increasingly redden and inflame his nose. The banker was so fond of the portrait that he gave photographs of it to his friends.
Morgan hung this portrait in the library of his house, behind the couch where he napped, and not in his study. Instead, his desk faced a portrait of his father, Junius Spencer Morgan, above the mantel. Holl’s portrait of Morgan was passed down through the family and given to the museum in 1967 by Pierpont Morgan’s grandson J.P. Morgan II (1918–2004).