Skip to main content

Main Area


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

  • President: Harry S. Truman

    - Years active: 1945–1953

    President Harry S. Truman’s portrait, created by Martha Greta Kempton in 1947, shows him seated stoically in a chair looking directly at the viewer. Kempton, who was the official White House artist, painted the 50 x 40 ¼-inch portrait over the course of five sessions in the Cabinet Room. Kempton’s portrait would be used in Truman’s reelection campaign, as well as the basis of a postage stamp in 1983 and U.S. coin in 1985 commemorating Truman’s 100th birthday.

  • First Lady: Elizabeth Truman

    - Years active: 1945–1953

    Fourteen years after leaving the White House, First Lady Elizabeth “Bess” Truman sat for a portrait by Martha Greta Kempton. The official portrait is one of three Kempton did of the first lady through the years, and she also captured multiple renderings of the president, and the entire Truman family. Washington D.C.’s Corcoran gallery held an exhibition of Kempton’s work in 1949, drawing more visitors than any other living artist.

  • President: Dwight D. Eisenhower

    - Years active: 1953–1961

    James Anthony Wills was a self-taught artist with no formal training when he painted the official White House portrait of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Wills, who was noted for his ability to capture the likeness of a subject (particularly in hands), painted other dignitaries and presidents, including Nixon and Truman.

  • First Lady: Mamie Eisenhower

    - Years active: 1953–1961

    Artist Thomas Edgar Stephens captured Mamie Eisenhower’s official portrait in 1959, showing the first Lady formally dressed, complete with a matching pink clutch and pearls. Stephens was an established portraitist, having previously created likenesses of George C. Marshall and President Dwight Eisenhower. In 1948, Stephens painted his first portrait of Mamie Eisenhower, while her husband was president of Columbia University.

  • President: John F. Kennedy

    - Years active: 1961–1963

    Aaron Shikler’s 50 x 34-inch official portrait of President John F. Kennedy has hung in the East Room of the White House since 1971. Painted in 1970, seven years after JFK’s assasination, Shikler’s portraits and artwork can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian, and Brooklyn Museum. He would go on to paint two first ladies, and his portrait of Ronald Reagan, although unofficial, was used by Time Magazine for its Man of the Year cover in 1981.

    You may also like: Looking back at 50 years of government spending

  • First Lady: Jacqueline Kennedy

    - Years active: 1961–1963

    Aaron Shikler completed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s portrait at the same time as her husband's in 1970. The oil on canvas rendering hangs next to President Kennedy in the East Room of the White House. Shikler was commissioned to produce a number of portraits of pop culture icons, including Barbara Walters, Diana Ross, and Giorgio Armani.

  • President: Lyndon B. Johnson

    - Years active: 1963–1969

    Elizabeth Shoumatoff created the official watercolor-on-paper portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Shoumatoff is best known for her unfinished rendering of Franklin Roosevelt, who suffered a brain hemorrhage while sitting for his portrait in 1945. The Russian-American painter crafted more than 3,000 portraits in her career, including renderings of the DuPonts, Mellons, and Fricks.

  • First Lady: Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson

    - Years active: 1963–1969

    Elizabeth Shoumatoff captured First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson in 1968 as well, releasing a watercolor study before the completed portrait. Lady Bird Johnson actively promoted a number of beautification projects, and was the first presidential wife to have a press secretary and chief of staff. Educated at the University of Texas, Johnson was a self-made millionaire.

  • President: Richard M. Nixon

    - Years active: 1969–1974

    President Richard Nixon’s portrait, painted by James Anthony Wills in 1984, hangs in the Grand Staircase in the East Room of the White House. Nixon, who resigned office amid the Watergate scandal in 1974, served as vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, whose official portrait was also done by Wills.

  • First Lady: Patricia Nixon

    - Years active: 1969–1974

    Henriette Wyeth, who learned to paint left-handed after polio immobilized her right hand as a child, crafted the official portrait of First Lady Patricia Nixon in 1978. Wyeth came from a family of artists, and had painted a number of dignitaries, including President Lyndon Johnson (her portrait was the basis of Time Magazine’s 1964 Man of the Year cover). Among her other notable works, Wyeth painted her brother Andrew for Time in 1963.

    You may also like: States with the most land owned by the federal government

2018 All rights reserved.