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Open Content Program

The Birmingham Museum of art makes available digital images of works in the Museum’s collection believed to be in the public domain. Images are available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial. Users do not need to contact the Museum for authorization to use these images. They are available through the Online Collection at See detailed instructions for specific work types below.

Identifying Open Content Images

The mission of the Birmingham Museum of Art is to spark the creativity, imagination, and liveliness of Birmingham by connecting all its citizens to the experience, meaning, and joy of art. The Museum understands that by sharing images of works online without restrictions, the BMA collection becomes more accessible to a larger audience.

For objects with images the rights status is displayed in the “credit line” section of the object information. The rights status or rights holder will be indicated. If the work is in the public domain and/or the image may be downloaded, the download icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the image area. To search the collection click here.

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Open Content Program
Digital Media Department
The Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35203


  • If an image is not available under Open Content it may be because the work is still under copyright, the work is not owned by the museum, or the work has not yet been photographed to BMA standards.
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Now for a Good Smoke

Thomas Waterman Wood


Born in Montpelier, Vermont, Thomas Waterman Wood studied under the portraitist Chester Harding (1792-1866) in Boston from 1846 till 1847. There he made his living painting coats of arms and railroad signs, and by doing patent drawings for inventors, among other odd jobs. For the next decade he painted portraits in Quebec, Washington, New York City, and Baltimore. Wood sailed for Paris in 1858, where he sketched at Louvre and the Galleries Luxembourg, and eventually made his way to Rome and London. After six months abroad, Wood returned to the States, settling in Nashville, where he remained through the first year of the Civil War. After a brief return to Vermont, Wood settled in Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained until 1867, the year he settled permanently in New York City. In 1869, Wood was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design and, in 1871, an Academician. He served as President of the American Water Color Society from 1878 until 1887. Wood also acted as Vice-President of the National Academy of Design for twelve years, beginning in 1879, becoming President of the Academy in 1891.

Wood is perhaps best know for his sensitive portrayals of African Americans, such as his three-painting series, “A Bit of War History” (1865-66), depicting a free black slave fighting for the Union cause. In Now For a Good Smoke, Wood depicts a plasterer—identifiable from the tools of his trade—getting ready to light up his pipe at the end of hard day’s work. Much like J. G. Brown’s depictions of street urchins, Wood’s paintings celebrate the working man by portraying him in a full-length format usually reserved for the portraits of the wealthy.