James Reid Lambdin

born Pittsburgh, PA 1807-died KY 1889
Media - portrait_image_113576.jpg - 90316
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Barry Bingham, Sr.
Also known as
  • James R. Lambdin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Kentucky, United States
Active in
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • American

James Reid Lambdin wanted to be an artist from the age of seven, and worked hard to realize his dream. He ultimately painted every U.S. president from John Quincy Adams to James A. Garfield. In 1828 he established the first museum west of the Allegheny Mountains, in Pittsburgh, called the Museum of National History and Gallery of Paintings. It was described as “the only specimen of taste and amusement in the city.” By 1832, Lambdin had moved his family and his museum to Louisville, Kentucky, and was traveling around the country for commissions. More than a decade later he was living in Philadelphia, where he became the director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He died on a train in Kentucky, en route to his home in Philadelphia.