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

  • First Lady: Ellen Wilson

    - Years active: 1913–1914

    President Woodrow Wilson’s first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, succumbed to Bright’s disease just one year into his first term. Her official portrait stands as a photograph donated by the Library of Congress. The daughter of slave owners, she is considered one of the first first ladies to use the office for social causes, lobbying for better housing and services among Washington’s Black communities.

  • First Lady: Edith Wilson

    - Years active: 1915–1921

    Swiss-born impressionist Adolfo Muller-Ury, who had previously done works of notable figures like Charles Schwab in 1903, painted Edith Wilson’s official portrait. Wilson is considered among the most powerful first ladies ever, essentially assuming the presidency after Woodrow Wilson’s stroke in 1919. The portrait of a stately Edith is on display at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington D.C.

  • President: Warren G. Harding

    - Years active: 1921–1923

    Renowned British painter Edmund Hodgson Smart put oil to canvas for the official portrait of President Warren G. Harding. Best known as a portraitist, Smart had previously painted such notable world leaders as King Edward VII of Britain, France’s Marshal Foch, and General John Pershing. Smart’s 58 ⅜ x 37 ⅞-inch portrayal came in June 1922, one year before Harding’s death of a heart attack in San Francisco.

  • First Lady: Florence Harding

    - Years active: 1921–1923

    Hungarian-born artist Flp Lszl painted the portrait of Florence Harding in 1921 from a sketch he drew of the first lady while visiting the president. A famed portraitist, Lazl — real name Philip Alexius de Laszlo de Lombos — was touring Washington D.C. to paint various dignitaries when he created the oil painting. The first lady was so fond of the portrait, she distributed prints to the White House staff.

  • President: Calvin Coolidge

    - Years active: 1923–1929

    Called “The Dean of U.S. Portraitists” by Time Magazine in 1948, Charles Hopkinson added President Calvin Coolidge to his collection in 1932. Hopkinson, known for his watercolor landscapes and portraits, was commissioned for over 350 portraits from 1920 to 1950, including the Rockefellers and 45 former Harvard presidents. The Harvard grad’s first paid portrait came in 1897, when he was commissioned to paint a young E.E. Cummings.

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  • First Lady: Grace Coolidge

    - Years active: 1923–1929

    Howard Chandler Christy’s watercolor depiction of First Lady Grace Coolidge standing next to her white collie, Rob Roy, still hangs in the White House’s China Room. Christy, who began capturing famous dignitaries later in his career, was best known as an illustrator, creating patriotic WWI posters and the “Christy Girl,” which became the symbol of the ideal “New Woman.” His most notable work, the 20 x 30-foot “Signing of the Constitution,” resides in the U.S. Capitol building’s east grand stairwell of the House.

  • President: Herbert Hoover

    - Years active: 1929–1933

    Boston native Elmer Wesley Greene painted President Herbert Hoover in 1956, 23 years after he left office. The 50 ⅛ x 40 ⅛-inch oil painting depicts Hoover seated in a chair, legs crossed, next to a globe. Greene also created portraits of notable dignitaries like Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman, and for­mer Florida Governor LeRoy Collins.

  • First Lady: Lou Hoover

    - Years active: 1929–1933

    Artist Richard Marsden Brown crafted his portrait of First Lady Lou Hoover in 1950 from a likeness by Philip de László. Mrs. Hoover served two stints as president of The Girl Scouts of America and was the only woman in the geology department at Stanford University when she met her future husband.

  • President: Franklin D. Roosevelt

    - Years active: 1933–1945

    The White House recognizes two portraits of America’s longest-serving president, who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died while sitting for artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff on April 12, 1945. Shoumatoff would not finish her portrait for two decades, completing the work from memory in 1966. In the interim, artist Frank Salisbury finished his 50 ¼ x 40 ⅜-inch portrait in 1947.

  • First Lady: Eleanor Roosevelt

    - Years active: 1933–1945

    Douglas Chandor painted a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt in 1949 from his New York studio, although it wouldn’t become her official picture until 1966. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson held a reception to unveil the portrait, which shows Roosevelt writing in a journal above other depictions of her knitting, thinking, and holding her wedding ring. Chandor was considered one of the era’s top artists, with portraits of Winston Churchill and Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt displayed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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