Artwork Rediscovered: Famous Philadelphia Art Collector as PT Barnum

Lou Hirshman does Albert C. Barnes.

Lou Hirshman

March 24, 2022, 12:00 p.m.

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Artist Lou Hirshman, a Ukrainian native and Philadelphian who once headed the faculty at Fleisher Art Memorial, was known for his caricature work. He had a unique approach to creating his exaggerated portraits, using collage to incorporate found objects that often added layers and nuances to his commentary.

Hirshman’s work is well known — his caricature of Albert Einstein is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art — but before his death in 1986 it was not always appreciated. He was also prolific, so many of his works can be lost to history.

One of Hirshman’s most interesting pieces has recently resurfaced, thanks to a report around a 1937 title: the portrait of Albert C. Barnes.

The caricature depicts the famous and sometimes controversial patron, whose collection and work adorns the Parkway Museum that bears his name, as circus master PT Barnum.

How did the worlds of Barnes and Hirshman intersect, and what does the caricature mean? Explore the story further in the thread below.

Norma D. Ross