DC -- Donald W. Reynolds Center (NPG) -- Exhibit: America's Presidents:
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SIPGPR_110219_01.JPG: Fiftieth Anniversary of JFK's Inauguration, 1961-2011
John Kennedy was the first American president born in the twentieth century, the youngest elected and the second-youngest to serve in that office, and its first Catholic. After two terms of "peace and prosperity" under President Dwight Eisenhower, the country was ready to pass the "torch... to a new generation," as Kennedy noted in his inaugural address. Kennedy had proclaimed a "new frontier," aware of the word's significance in American history and its evocation of limitless possibilities. The nation, he contended during his campaign, had not responded energetically to its domestic problems such as poverty, racism, and a sluggish economy, and it had failed to assert strong moral leadership in the world. There would be, in the Kennedy White House, a number of Harvard alumni and Rhodes Scholars, as historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. characterized them, who responded eagerly to Kennedy's clarion call to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship," confident in their ability to transform America. Perhaps Kennedy's ironic temperament -- his skepticism -- told him that the nation would be confronting hard realities not easily changed. On that bitterly cold inaugural day, the brilliant sunlight reflecting off a snow-covered city, the country was enchanted by a young, vigorous president with a beautiful wife and family. The myth of a new Camelot was born.
SIPGPR_110219_06.JPG: Inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, January 20, 1961:
During the third week of January 1961, preparations began for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy as Washington braced itself for a snowstorm. On Thursday, January 19, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and it began snowing hard. Typically for the capital, streets were unplowed, and cars were abandoned. On Pennsylvania Avenue, workmen struggled to clear the parade route, and soldiers used flame throwers to melt the ice around the inaugural stand. The snow stopped before dawn on January 20. Inauguration Day was bitterly cold and windy but sunny. In the traditional ritual of the transfer of power, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy rode together in a limousine to the Capitol. At twenty minutes after noon, the ceremonies began.
Bill Ray, 1961
SIPGPR_110219_12.JPG: Kennedy speaking in Wisconsin during the Democratic primary race:
In 1960 John Kennedy's only way to the presidential nomination was by winning primaries, convincing the party's bosses of his electoral strength. The first test was in Wisconsin, on April 5, where Kennedy faced Hubert Humphrey from neighboring Minnesota. Kennedy won, but not by the margin predicted. When asked by one of his sisters what it meant, he responded bitterly, "we have to do it all over again . . . win every one of them-West Virginia . . . Maryland . . . Indiana, and Oregon." Humphrey viewed his close finish as a "moral victory" and readied himself for West Virginia. Democratic leaders, however, saw Humphrey's inability to win in a neighboring state as fatal. Ironically, it was Humphrey's decision to enter the West Virginia primary, and Kennedy's decisive victory over him there, that convinced "the big Eastern bosses," in reporter Theodore White's view, to support Kennedy, ensuring him the nomination.
George Tames, 1960
SIPGPR_110219_18.JPG: John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson:
In 1960 Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson had believed that his national prominence and power base in the Senate would win him the Democratic nomination for president. After Kennedy won the nomination, he surprised everyone by offering Johnson the vice presidency-and Johnson surprised the political pundits by accepting it. Kennedy hoped that Johnson would balance his "Yankee Roman Catholic" image and give him Texas, a prognosis borne out in one of the closest presidential elections in American history. Kennedy later acknowledged the role reversal, admitting, "I spent years of my life [as a senator] when I could not get consideration for a bill, until I went around and begged Lyndon Johnson to let it go ahead." Kennedy's aides often ridiculed Johnson as "Uncle Cornpone," but the president always spoke of him with respect, placing him in charge of the administration's space exploration initiative.
George Tames, c 1961
SIPGPR_110219_23.JPG: John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Soon after assuming the presidency, President Kennedy approved a CIA plan originating with his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, for toppling Cuban leader Fidel Castro with an army of Cuban refugees covertly trained in the United States. Within hours after the start of the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1961, Castro's army overwhelmed the refugees on the beach. The fiasco exposed Kennedy to harsh criticism, many lambasting him for not providing sufficient air cover. Kennedy, disappointed by the advice he received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and holdovers from the Eisenhower administration, moved rapidly to obtain Eisenhower's support. In this photograph, taken in late April, JFK and Ike walk the grounds of Camp David. Eisenhower always supported the president publicly, but privately, Ike, who in World War II commanded the largest amphibious invasion in history, bitterly criticized Kennedy's rejection of additional air cover.
Paul Vathis, 1961
SIPGPR_110219_30.JPG: National Democratic Republican Nomination:
Rarely in presidential politics have two men representing the same party been so dissimilar as the 1836 Democratic candidate, Martin Van Buren, and his running-mate, Richard Mentor Johnson. Van Buren was a gentleman of refinement and a savvy New York politician, a master of political circumspection who never gave cause for offense. Johnson, a Kentuckian, paid no heed to the social etiquette of his day and lived openly with his mulatto slave, claiming two children by her, much to the consternation of his constituency. Yet both men, particularly Van Buren, enjoyed the patronage of outgoing president Andrew Jackson, whose popularity influenced the election in their favor. Typical of vice presidents at this time, Johnson never played an active role in Van Buren's single-term administration and became a liability largely because of his lifestyle. This 1840 reelection broadside, however, reminded voters of Johnson's credible military service in the War of 1812.
Endiott Lithography Company, 1840
SIPGPR_110219_36.JPG: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963
When an assassin's bullets ended the life of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, America experienced a collective sense of loss it had not known since the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945. Unlike Roosevelt, the loss was not that of an indispensable leader in a time of great crisis, but an expression of unfulfilled promise, a young president cut down. Kennedy had charmed Americans with his grace and eloquence, inspired them with his "New Frontier," and challenged them to overcome all "burdens" and "hardships." An initial foreign policy fiasco, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, was later followed by success in forcing the Soviet Union to remove its missiles from Cuba. For many Americans the violent ending of Kennedy's life not only abruptly terminated a promising presidency but tested their confidence in America.
William Franklin Draper's depiction of Kennedy in a rocking chair was unintentionally ironic because, unknown at the time, the young and "vigorous" president was beset by serious health problems.
William Franklin Draper, 1966, from a 1962 life sketch
SIPGPR_110409_01.JPG: Out of the Ruins
It was President Ulysses S Grant's bad fortune to have been at the seat of power during the Panic of 1873, a worldwide event that triggered one of this country's worst economic downturns -- a five-year depression. Fortunately, however, Thomas Nast, the era's most satirical caricaturist, was Grant's close friend. Nast supported the administration in times of crisis, as revealed in this cartoon, which appeared on the cover of the October 18, 1873, issue of Harper's Weekly. Grant is depicted as a gallant chief of police helping the maiden Columbia out of the fallen rubble that is labeled Wall Street. Although the worst of the depression was still to come, Nast targeted the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange, which closed its doors the last ten days of September. The Grant administration took the immediate stopgap measure of releasing fifty million dollars into the stricken economy.
Thomas Nast, 1873
SIPGPR_110704_12.JPG: Richard M. Nixon, 1913-1994
Richard Nixon owed his election as Dwight Eisenhower's vice president to his early reputation as an anti-Communist. By the time he became president in 1969, however, his thinking had shifted considerably. As a result, under his leadership, the confrontational strategies that had long dominated this country's response to Communism gave way to a historic detente, marked by American recognition of Communist China and better relations with the Soviet Union.
These achievements, however, were eventually overshadowed by disclosure of the Watergate scandals -- a web of illegal activity involving scores of Nixon's advisers. Although never implicated in the original crimes, Nixon did become party to attempts to cover them up. Following irrefutable disclosure of that fact, he became the only president ever to resign from office.
Philippe Halsman, 1969
SIPGPR_110704_36.JPG: Roosevelt and his cabinet
This photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt and his cabinet was taken by the noted Washington studio Harris and Ewing in 1906, an especially production year for the reform-minded administration. That year, Roosevelt signed the Hepburn Act, which increased federal regulation of such giant monopolies as John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and JP Morgan's Northern Securities Company, which were fixing railroad shipping rates to their advantage. Roosevelt also signed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, as well as the Meat Inspection Act, to provide basic levels of consumer protections. As president, he initiated more conservation measures than all of his predecessors combined, including the Antiquities Act of 1906, which designated eighteen new national monuments. And for his efforts the previous year to mediate a successful end to the Russo-Japanese War, Roosevelt won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.
Harris and Ewing Studio, 1906
SIPGPR_110704_43.JPG: Theodore Roosevelt as President in 1907
Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most portrayed persons of his era. From the beginning of his career as a New York assemblyman in the early 1880s to his death in 1919, Roosevelt stayed almost perpetually in the public eye. Photographer Alvin Langdon recorded him in this image taken at the White House on April 1, 1907. Only twenty-four, Coburn was already realizing some of the most productive years of his career. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, another subject of Coburn's camera, called him "the greatest photographer in the world," high praise that must have rankled other greats such as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. Still, there was no denying the vibrancy of Coburn's portraiture, the best of which he compiled in a book, Men of Mark (1913). This image of Roosevelt was included among the book's thirty-three prints of American and European authors, artists, and statesmen.
Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1907
SIPGPR_110811_10.JPG: Betty Ford, 1918-2011
When Gerald Ford became president on August 9, 1974, he said, "I am indebted to no man and only one woman, my dear wife, Betty." An outspoken and inspirational first lady, Betty Ford unflinchingly embraced such hot-button issues as the Equal Rights Amendment and legalized abortion. Most important, she destigmatized attitudes about two illnesses that struck her during her very public life: as first lady, she talked openly about her battle with breast cancer; in 1982, after conquering her own addiction to alcohol and drugs, she founded the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse. Her post–White House life set a standard for future first ladies, and in 1991 President George H.W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her continuing contribution to American life and culture.
Everett Raymond Kinstler, 1996
SIPGPR_110811_20.JPG: Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006
Gerald Ford was perfectly happy being a Michigan congressman and House minority leader. But Ford's congressional career abruptly ended in 1973, when President Richard Nixon appointed him to succeed Vice President Spiro Agnew, who had resigned amid revelations of misconduct. Within a year, Ford's political fortunes took yet another sharp turn. On August 9, 1974, with Nixon himself forced to resign from office, Ford became the only unelected vice president to succeed to the White House.
Ford's pardoning of Nixon shortly thereafter drew angry criticism. Nevertheless, his conciliatory leadership succeeded in restoring a much-eroded confidence in the presidency. Summarizing the orderly way he came to office despite the unsettling events that put him there, he said at his swearing-in, "Our Constitution works." In large measure, it was Ford who insured that it did.
Everett Raymond Kinstler's likeness was painted at Ford's request specifically for the National Portrait Gallery. Kinstler based the portrait on sketches that he had made in the late 1970s, when he was working on Ford's official White House likeness.
Everett Raymond Kinstler, 1987
SIPGPR_110811_32.JPG: Contact sheet for Halsman photo of Nixon:
Shortly after Richard Nixon's victory in the 1968 election, photographer Philippe Halsman learned that he had been selected to make the president-elect's official portrait. Describing the sitting that took place on January 9, 1969, Halsman recalled that he had "never seen a man looking more happy. He seemed literally to be walking on clouds." Halsman began by asking his subject what expression he desired for his portrait. Although Nixon expressed his preference for "a serious and substantial expression," he agreed to try a few relaxed poses. Halsman responded by telling a joke that provoked a hearty laugh from his sitter and enabled the photographer to record a series of uncharacteristically animated Nixon images. This contact sheet offers a fascinating look at the evolution of a memorable portrait session by revealing the range of expressions Halsman managed to capture in just a dozen frames.
Philippe Halsman, 1969
SIPGPR_110902_01.JPG: Progressive School for Democrats.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 30 Jan 1882 - 12 Apr 1945
John Nance Garner, 22 Nov 1868 - 7 Nov 1967
Henry Fountain Ashurst, 13 Sep 1874 - 31 May 1962
Josiah William Bailey, 14 Sep 1873 - 15 Dec 1946
Alben William Barkley, 24 Nov 1877 - 30 Apr 1956
Theodore Gilmore Bilbo, 13 Oct 1877 - 21 Aug 1947
Edward Raymond Burke, 1880 - 1968
Harry Flood Byrd, 10 Jun 1887 - 20 Oct 1966
Royal Samuel Copeland, 7 Nov 1868 - 17 Jun 1938
Peter Goelet Gerry, 18 Sep 1879 - 31 Oct 1957
Joseph F. Guffey, 29 Dec 1870 - 6 Mar 1959
Byron Patton Harrison, 29 Aug 1881 - 22 Jun 1941
Rush Dew Holt, 19 Jun 1905 - 8 Feb 1955
William Henry King, 3 Jun 1863 - 27 Nov 1949
Robert Marion La Follette, Jr., 6 Feb 1895 - 24 Feb 1953
Paul Vories McNutt, 1891 - 1955
Sherman Minton, 20 Oct 1890 - 9 Apr 1965
George William Norris, 11 Jul 1861 - 2 Sep 1944
Joseph Christopher O'Mahoney, 5 Nov 1884 - 1 Dec 1962
Claude Denson Pepper, 8 Sep 1900 - 30 May 1989
Lewis Baxter Schwellenbach, 20 Sep 1894 - 10 Jun 1948
Ellison DuRant Smith, 1 Aug 1866 - 17 Nov 1944
Millard Evelyn Tydings, 6 Apr 1890 - 9 Feb 1961
Robert Ferdinand Wagner, 8 Jun 1877 - 4 May 1953
Burton Kendall Wheeler, 27 Feb 1882 - Jan 1975
Eight years before Franklin Roosevelt first ran for president, he was espousing progressivism as a national mandate for confronting the nation's problems, much like his fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, had done two decades earlier. "The Democratic Party is the Progressive party of the country," FDR proclaimed in 1924." Two years later, he warned that "a nation or a state which is unwilling by governmental action to tackle the new problems . . . is headed for decline and ultimate death." Given the subsequent hardships of the Great Depression, Roosevelt as president found himself at the head of the class in caricaturist Adolf Dehn's Progressive School for Democrats. Roosevelt's New Deal was largely an experimental program of reforms like Social Security, Federal Deposit Insurance, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which at the very least promised to be lessons in federal entitlements and interventions.
Adolf Arthur Dehn, 1938
SIPGPR_111120_02.JPG: Andrew Jackson, 1767-1845
With the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, no nineteenth-century president wielded his powers more aggressively than Andrew Jackson, which is confirmed by his use of the presidential veto over Congress. Unlike his predecessors, who invoked that power on strictly constitutional grounds, Jackson vetoed key congressional measures, not because he deemed them illegal, but simply because he did not like them. In doing so, he set a precedent that vastly enlarged the presidential role in congressional lawmaking.
Among Jackson's opponents, this executive activism drew charges of dictatorship. Those accusations, however, carried little weight among yeoman farmers and laborers, who doted on Jackson's professed opposition to elitism.
This portrait, showing Jackson in military uniform, recalls his early fame as the general who roundly defeated the British at New Orleans during the War of 1812. The painter of the picture, Ralph E. W. Earl, eventually attached himself to Jackson's household and spent much of his time filling the considerable demand for Jackson's likeness.
Ralph E. W. Earl, c 1817
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Description of Subject Matter: The nation’s only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House, this exhibition lies at the heart of the Portrait Gallery’s mission to tell the American story through the individuals who have shaped it. Visitors will see an enhanced and extended display of multiple images of 42 presidents of the United States, including Gilbert Stuart’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington, the famous “cracked plate” photograph of Abraham Lincoln and whimsical sculptures of Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush by noted caricaturist Pat Oliphant. Presidents Washington, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt will be given expanded attention because of their significant impact on the office. Presidents from FDR to Bill Clinton are featured in a video component of the exhibit.
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