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Every US president's and first lady's official portraits

  • President: Franklin Pierce

    - Years active: 1853–1857

    President Franklin would be the 14th U.S. leader and one of many painted by portraitist George Peter Alexander Healy. The oil on canvas sized 62 3/16 x 47 ⅛ was painted a year after President Pierce served in 1858, common among many paintings of U.S. leaders. Though the president was a brigadier general in the Mexican-American War, Healy did not compose President Pierce in military attire; instead, he characterized him in a formal black suit.

  • First Lady: Jane Pierce

    - Years active: 1853–1857

    The engraving of First Lady Jane Pierce was completed 29 years after her husband left office in 1886 by artist John Chester Buttre, a famed steel-plate engraver and lithographer of political and military society. The depiction of First Lady Pierce seemingly reflects her personality as a pious woman who suffered greatly due to the death of her three sons, one of which was killed in a train accident before the inauguration of her husband, whom she discouraged from running for office.

  • President: James Buchanan

    - Years active: 1857–1861

    The original oil-on-canvas portrait of President James Buchanan was rendered by artist John Henry Brown in 1851 before Buchanan took office. William Merritt Chase created his own portrait of the country’s only bachelor president in 1902. Both depictions show Buchanan wearing his customary high collar covering his neck.

  • First Lady: Harriet Lane

    - Years active: 1857–1861

    Niece and ward to lifetime bachelor President James Buchanan, First Lady Harriet Lane became the official White House hostess for her uncle during his administration. While the photographer of the black-and-white photo of First Lady Harriet in a full-length button-up dress is unknown, its addition to the collection is credited to the Library of Congress. Dubbed the “First Lady of the National Collection of Fine Arts,” by the Smithsonian Institute for bestowing her considerable art collection, the White House hostess also founded an adolescent invalid home at John Hopkins Hospital.

  • President: Abraham Lincoln

    - Years active: 1861–1865

    The official White House painting of President Abraham Lincoln by prolific portraitist George Peter Alexander Healy was completed in 1869, four years after his assassination.The artist and muse were not strangers, as President Lincoln sat for Healy in 1864. Healy would use President Lincoln's forward-sitting pose in his later work "The Peacemakers," a depiction of the iconic Civil War council that took place on the River Queen steamboat.

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  • First Lady: Mary Todd Lincoln

    - Years active: 1861–1865

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln's official White House portrait, painted by her niece Katherine Helm, shows her adorned in flowers from head to dress. After 17 years of overwhelming grief and depression from her husband's assassination, Lincoln died at her sister's home, where she and the president had married 40 years earlier.

  • President: Andrew Johnson

    - Years active: 1865–1869

    The official posthumous White House painting of 17th President Andrew Jackson by Eliphalet Frazer Andrews is one of the few political portraits the Ohio native brushed. The 1880 picture was painted five years after President Johnson's death in 1875. President Johnson's face appears out of blackness on the 30 ⅜ x 25 ⅛ canvas, casting President Lincoln's successor in a serious, stoic manner.

  • First Lady: Eliza Johnson

    - Years active: 1865–1869

    The engraving of First Lady Eliza Johnson, etched by John Chester Buttre in 1883, depicted her thoughtfully, dressed in a white button-up collar and bonnet. The steel-engraver and lithographer also etched First Lady Jane Pierce’s official White House portrait, who is also shown somberly. Unlike many presidents’ wives, First Lady Jane did not enjoy entertaining, only hosting a formal political dinner when necessary, and passing off her official White House duties to her daughter, Hostess Martha Johnson Patterson.

  • Hostess: Martha Johnson Patterson

    - Years active: 1865–1869

    President Andrew Johnson's daughter Martha Johnson Patterson was the de facto first lady during her father's administration. Her mother, Eliza, secluded herself on the second floor of the White House, preferring intimate family gatherings rather than large public affairs. Her simple black-and-white portrait, illustrated by an unknown artist, depicts the Tennessee country girl, who brought two cows to the White House, with her hair wrapped up and dressed in a high collar.

  • President: Ulysses S. Grant

    - Years active: 1869–1877

    The official White House portrait, painted by Henry Ulke in 1875, portrays President Ulysses S. Grant sitting in a red velvet chair, relaxed and staring off. Ulke, a Prussian immigrant, opened a studio in Washington D.C. on Pennsylvania Ave., eventually depicting high-profile politicians and notable scientists.

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