Smithsonian to feature local artist David Eichenberg's 'The Duchess of Toledo'

By Lauren Lowrey - bio | email

Updated by Kate Oatis - email

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - A local artist and sculptor has become a finalist in the most prestigious portrait competition in the country. David Eichenberg's portrait, The Duchess of Toledo, will be featured in the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery, from Oct. 22 to Aug. 10, 2010.

It's an honor few artists enjoy. In fact, 3,300 artists submitted one portrait. In the end, Eichenberg was one of just 49 chosen.

"It is the biggest portrait show in the United States, so it is a big honor," says Eichenberg.

Eichenberg got his start at the University of Toledo and from there, began sculpting and painting. He worked on his craft by, "helping other artists. They'd get a commission (to do work). I'd make molds for them if it was a casting, weld for them -- do anything for them I possibly could."

Eichenberg quickly learned that working for other artists inhibited him from working on his own projects. Only in the last few years has he been able to develop his craft. Indeed, he moved into portraiture relatively recently, taking photos and recreating them in paint.

The portrait Eichenberg submitted to the Smithsonian competition is just the fourth he's ever painted. The subject is his daughter Eden, sucking her pacifier.

The portrait is also filled with symbolism: Eden's pacifier, her beloved pajamas with cats on them. And the skyline in the background is that of Toledo, Spain.

By the way, Eichenberg says the reason Eden was so focused for the photo is that she was watching television, transfixed by Baby Einstein. In fact, it was only after he saw Eden's intensity that he decided to create a portrait, which he calls The Duchess of Toledo.

Eichenberg hopes the competition will raise his profile among art lovers.

"Best case scenario, I get picked up by one or two galleries outside of the area and get some commission work. That would be, by far, the best thing that could happen."

It's estimated that 2 million people will see the portrait while it's on display from October until August of 2010.

On the web: David Eichenberg

Copyright 2009 WTOL, a Raycom Media station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.