National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art, founded as a gift to the nation, serves as a center of visual art, education, and culture. The collection of more than 150,000 paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings spans the history of Western art and showcases some of the triumphs of human creativity. Across 363 days a year, the Gallery offers a full spectrum of special exhibitions and public programs free of charge.
Alma Thomas’s first steps in DC would have been next to the National Gallery campus, where the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station once stood, after she and her family took the train from Columbus, GA to DC in 1907. Today, the National Gallery owns four paintings by Alma Thomas and five additional works on paper.
Alma Thomas, Pansies in Washington, 1969, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of Vincent Melzac), 2015.19.144
Visitors engage with Alma Thomas's Red Rose Cantata, 1973, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Vincent Melzac, 1976.6.1. Red Rose Cantata is on view and part of the John Wilmerding Community Celebration on September 24-26.
Alma Thomas, Red Rose Cantata, 1973, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Vincent Melzac, 1976.6.1
Alma Thomas, Autumn Drama, c. 1969, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (The Evans-Tibbs Collection, Gift of Thurlow Evans Tibbs, Jr.), 2015.19.211
Alma Thomas, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, 1969, acrylic on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of Vincent Melzac), 2015.19.145
East Building, National Gallery of Art, Washington
West Building and Andrew W. Mellon Memorial Fountain, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Backstory and Context
Alma Thomas found inspiration in landscapes and flowers around her, which she stylized in shapes and patterns created with repeated, colorful brushstrokes. Her paintings are infused with personal memories and references; her painting Tiptoe Through the Tulips refers not only to the springtime flowers that populate Washington, DC, but also to the plucky song published in 1929 and famously recorded by Tiny Tim in 1968. Similarly inspired by nature, Pansies in Washington presents a series of concentric circles with multicolored strokes – an abstracted take on what an aerial view of a pansy garden might look like. Thomas’ work Red Rose Cantata derives from her interest in both nature and music, its linear organization with organic variations forming a kind of visual rhythm, as if the artist had painted a cantata, a type of musical composition. The artist’s works on paper in the National Gallery collection--several of which are watercolors--present similar styles and themes drawing from nature.
Alma Thomas, National Gallery of Art . Accessed August 16th 2021. https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1926.html .
Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station, Accessed August 16th 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_and_Potomac_Railroad_Station.
Uncovering America - Women an Art, National Gallery of Art . Accessed August 16th 2021. https://www.nga.gov/learn/teachers/lessons-activities/uncovering-america/women-art.html .