Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tony Bennett Donates Duke Ellington Painting to the Smithsonian

Duke Ellington by Tony BennettThe Smithsonian Institution has announced that legendary singer Tony Bennett is donating his watercolor painting of Duke Ellington to the National Portrait Gallery. The painting will be presented at the museum in April 2009 to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Duke Ellington’s birth. The painting, titled "God Is Love", depicts Ellington with a bouquet of pink roses in the background. Bennett chose this motif to commemorate Duke's habit of sending the singer a dozen pink roses whenever Ellington composed a new song.

This is the third painting that the 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer has donated to the Smithsonian. In 2006, his painting of Central Park was donated to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and, in 2002, his portrait of Ella Fitzgerald was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “We are honored to accept this donation from Mr. Bennett to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection,” said Martin Sullivan, director of the museum. “There was great affection between Bennett and Ellington, and both were outstanding contributors to America’s musical heritage.”

Book Cover - Tony Bennett in the Studio: A Life of Art & MusicTony Bennett, has been painting all his life and is an accomplished visual artist. He received formal training in art at the School of Industrial Arts (now known as the School of Art and Design) in Manhattan. He has continued to paint throughout his career in music. Tony Bennett paints under his birth name Anthony Benedetto. In 1999 Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto formed Exploring the Arts, a non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen the role of the arts in American education by returning arts-enriched programming to public schools across the country. And, in 2007 Tony Bennett released Tony Bennett in the Studio: A Life of Art & Music, a book illustrated with his own artwork.

For more information visit:

Tony Bennett's Art Website

Smithsonian Press Release


Visit the Pop Life Art home page for links to the artwork of Tony Bennett and more than 100 other celebrity artists.


Related Blog Entry: Painting Lesson with Tony Bennett up for Auction (2/16/09)