The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC will present “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939.” The exhibt opens April 26 and highlights the myriad ways that American women contributed to the city’s vibrant modernist milieu.

This is the first exhibition to focus on the impact of American women on Paris—and of Paris on American women—from the turn of the 20th century until the outbreak of World War II.   Through portraiture and biography, the exhibition illuminates the accomplishments of more than 60 convention-defying women who crossed the Atlantic to pursue professional goals and lead authentic lives. “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939” is curated by Robyn Asleson, curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery, and will be on view from April 26 through Feb. 23, 2025.

Featured in the exhibition of nearly 80 artworks will be portraits of cultural influencers, such as Sylvia Beach, Josephine Baker, Natalie Clifford Barney, Elsie de Wolfe, Isadora Duncan, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Zelda Fitzgerald, Janet Flanner, Peggy Guggenheim, Theresa Helburn, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Florence Mills, Anaïs Nin, Rose O’Neill, Gertrude Stein, Sarah Samuels Stein, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Anna May Wong. As foreigners in a cosmopolitan city, these “exiles” escaped the constraints that limited them at home as a result of prejudices based on gender, class, race, and sexual orientation. Many used their newfound freedom to pursue culture-shifting experiments in a variety of fields, including art, literature, design, publishing, music, fashion, journalism, theater and dance. An impressive number rose to preeminence as cultural arbiters, not merely participating in important modernist initiatives but leading them. The progressive ventures they undertook while living abroad profoundly influenced American culture and opened up new possibilities for women.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube.