Jacqueline Cochran

Media - 1967.8.2 - SAAM-1967.8.2_1 - 2503
Copied Alexandrina Robertson Harris, Jacqueline Cochran, ca. 1950, watercolor on ivory, sight 3 122 34 in. (8.97.0 cm) oval, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alexandrina Bruce, 1967.8.2

Artwork Details

Jacqueline Cochran
ca. 1950
Not on view
sight 3 122 34 in. (8.97.0 cm) oval
center left in watercolor: Alexandrina R. Harris
Credit Line
Gift of Alexandrina Bruce
Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Portrait
  • Portrait female — Cochran, Jacqueline — waist length
Object Number

Artwork Description

According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, at her death in 1980, “Jacqueline Cochran held more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other male or female pilot in aviation history.” In 1932, after three weeks of lessons, she received her pilot’s license, and five years later began setting aviation records. She trained civilian pilots after founding the Women’s Flying Training Detachment, when the Army anticipated a shortage of military pilots during World War II. She founded and led the WASPS (Women Air Force Service Pilots), and was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal. Cochran went on to become the first woman to break the sound barrier and won the prestigious Harmon Trophy fourteen times, a prize awarded annually to the best female pilot. Born Bessie Lee Pittman in 1906, Cochran invented a hard-luck childhood published first in Life magazine in 1954, which still dominates the biographies written about her. She also owned her own cosmetics company, cultivating a glamorous image in all facets of her life.