Skip to main content

Elvis Presley

Ralph Wolfe Cowan, 1931 - 2018
Elvis Aron Presley, 8 Jan 1935 - 16 Aug 1977
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 111.8 x 111.8 x 1.3cm (44 x 44 x 1/2")
Frame: 140 x 140 x 6.4cm (55 1/8 x 55 1/8 x 2 1/2")
Elvis Aron Presley: Male
Elvis Aron Presley: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician
Elvis Aron Presley: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie
Elvis Aron Presley: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Guitarist
Elvis Aron Presley: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Rock
Elvis Aron Presley: Military and Intelligence\Army
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of R.W. Cowan
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Tupelo, Mississippi
Elvis Presley grew up in the musical melting pot of Memphis, where his emerging talent was heavily influenced by local strains of pop, country, rhythm and blues, and gospel. As a young truck driver in 1953, he paid four dollars to record a song for his mother’s birthday. Sun Records—then the label of such other young talents as Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis—soon signed him, and his first record, “That’s All Right, Mama,” was an instant hit.
By 1956, thanks in part to a series of sensational television appearances, he was crowned the “king of rock and roll,” with a string of recordings that included “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Hound Dog.” Since his death, Presley has emerged as an iconic entertainment figure, and his Graceland mansion has become one of the nation’s most-visited popular culture shrines.
Nacido en Tupelo, Misisipi
Elvis Presley creció en el crisol musical que es Memphis, donde su incipiente talento recibió las influencias del pop, country, rhythm and blues y gospel. En 1953 el joven trabajaba como camionero y pagó cuatro dólares por grabar una canción para el cumpleaños de madre. Pronto fue contratado por Sun Records, entonces disquera de otros talentos jóvenes como Johnny Cash y Jerry Lee Lewis. Su primera grabación, “That’s All Right, Mama”, fue un éxito instantáneo.
Para 1956, impulsado por una serie de sensacionales presentaciones en televisión, se coronó como el “rey del rock and roll”, con una lista de títulos que ya incluía “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Don’t Be Cruel” y “Hound Dog”. Desde su muerte, Presley se convirtió en figura icónica de la industria del entretenimiento y su mansión de Graceland es una meca de la cultura popular en el país.
The artist; gift 1990 to NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
On View
NPG, South Gallery 322 Mezzanine