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Presidential portrait (United States): Wikis

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Gilbert Stuart, first painter to paint a Presidential portrait

An Official Presidential Portrait is an oil portrait painted of a President of the United States of America. In recent years, the official portrait of the President is a photograph until after they leave office. A tradition started with Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, it has carried through to modern times. Presidents often display the official portraits of Presidents they admire (on loan from the National Gallery of Art) in the Oval Office, or around the White House.

Contents

History

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George Washington

The Presidential portrait of George Washington was famously rescued the by First Lady Dolley Madison when the British burned down the White House in the War of 1812.[1]

John Singer Sargent was the artist who painted Theodore Roosevelt's portrait

Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt's official portrait was originally commissioned to Théobald Chartran in 1902, but when Roosevelt saw the final product he hated it and hid it in the darkest corner of the White House. When family members called it the "Mewing Cat" for making him look so harmless, he had it destroyed and hired John Singer Sargent to paint a more masculine portrait.[2]

Sargent followed Roosevelt around the rooms of the White House, making sketches looking for the right lighting and pose, but was unhappy with them. When Roosevelt headed toward a staircase to try the rooms on the second level, both of their patience was running thin. Roosevelt suggested that Sargent didn't have a clue what he [Roosevelt] wanted. Sargent responded that Roosevelt didn't know what was needed to pose for a portrait. Roosevelt having reached the landing, planted his hand on the balustrade post, and turned to Sargent angrily demanding "Don't I!" And the perfect pose had been found.

Roosevelt, always active, only agreed to stay still for half an hour a day, after lunch. But the portrait was eventually finished, and adored by Roosevelt.[2]

Calvin Coolidge

During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Reagan removed Coolidge's portrait from the Grand Hall into the Cabinet Room next to Thomas Jefferson's portrait. Reagan has always quoted, and admired Coolidge and thought Coolidge's impressive performance in the "roaring twenties" was outstanding and thought Coolidge's portrait is much more suitable next to a founding father.

John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy's official portrait was painted posthumously by Aaron Shikler. It is generally analyzed as a character study. Unlike most presidential portraits, Kennedy's does not reflect his personality, but instead depicts him as pensive and brooding, with eyes downcast and arms folded, referencing Kennedy's assassination. Shikler also painted the official White House portraits of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the Kennedy children.

Bill Clinton

Painter of Clinton's Presidential portrait shown in the center of this photograph

The Presidential portrait of Bill Clinton was the first of such portraits to be painted by an African American, Simmie Knox.[3] The portrait of Bill Clinton was also the first Presidential portrait to include the flag of the United States.

George W. Bush

Uncharacteristically, George W. Bush's portrait was released several weeks before his administration had ended. Painted by Robert A. Anderson, it was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. on December 19, 2008. Referring to his unpopularity, President Bush jokingly opened the unveiling with "Welcome to my hanging", resulting in the room erupting in laughter.[4] This was an official portrait commissioned by the White House, but funded by private donorship.[5]

The caption at the National Portrait Gallery beside President Bush's portrait originally read that his administration was "marked by a series of catastrophic events..." [including] "...the attacks on September 11, 2001, that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote a letter to the director of the National Portrait Gallery, noting the link between the terrorist attacks and the Iraq war had been "debunked". Director Martin Sullivan assured him the label would be changed to delete "led to".[6]

Barack Obama

Barack Obama was the first President to have his portrait taken with a digital camera.[7] The picture was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The painted portrait of Barack Obama is expected to be finished at the end of his tenure as President.

Gallery of Presidential Portraits

See also

References

External links


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