Arts Everyday Living: Norman Rockwell’s Rival in the Art of the Presidency

Click on the works of art to ENLARGE them.

 

If Norman Rockwell had lived in the time of royalty, he might have been considered the country’s court painter.  For few American artists have been given such regular access to the chief occupant of the White House, starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ending with Richard Nixon.

Rockwell did have a few predecessors who rivaled him in the production of presidential portraits.  Gilbert Stuart, for instance, painted the first five presidents including his popular portrayals of George Washington.   But did you ever hear of George P. A. Healy (1813-1894)?  He actually was the official portraitist for 7 presidents, culminating with his moving rendition of Abraham Lincoln now hanging prominently in the State Dining Room.

So let’s take a mini-tour of the Executive Mansion and view Healy’s interpretations of the sixth, eighth, tenth, thirteenth, and sixteenth presidents.

George P.A. Healy, John Quincy Adams, 1858, oil on canvas, White House Historical Assoc., Washington, D.C.

John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

Son of John Adams, Minister to Netherlands and Russia, Secretary of State, President, U.S. House of Representatives

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George P.A.. Healy, Martin Van Buren, 1858, oil on canvas, White House Historical Assoc., Washington, D.C.

Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

Secretary of State, Vice-President (under Andrew Jackson), President, known as the “Little Magician”

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George P.A. Healy, 1859, oil on canvas, White House Collection, Washington, D.C.

John Tyler (1841-1845)

First Vice President to succeed President (William Henry Harrison–died of pneumonia), President, called “His Accidency”

Before Presidency, U.S. House of Representatives, Governor of Virginia; after, Confederate House of Representatives

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George P.A. Healy, Millard Fillmore, 1857, oil on canvas, White House Historical Assoc., Washington D.C.

Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

Second Vice President to succeed President (Zachary Taylor, died of undetermined illness), President

Before Presidency, U.S. House of Representatives, brought first bath tub to White House

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George P.A. Healy, Abraham Lincoln, 1869, oil on canvas, White House Collection, Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

Presided over the Civil War, first President to be assassinated

Previously U.S. House of Representatives, “Great Emancipator”

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The above images are used solely for educational purposes.

And take a break from politics with Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.

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