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shrub's art

Post #291 • June 3, 2004, 6:45 AM • 7 Comments

I seem to remember Bill Clinton being lauded for having a certain amount of aesthetic taste; I can find references to his selection of Childe Hassam's Avenue in the Rain to hang in the Oval Office. I wondered, what art did Shrub bring in? A 2001 report from the Guardian says:

Medallions and busts of Democrat presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry S Truman have been ousted, but the following artworks have been retained: Rembrandt Peel's [sic] portrait of George Washington in his Continental Army outfit; Fred Remington's sculpture, The Bronco Buster; Thomas Moran's epic landscape, The Three Tetons; and a Norman Rockwell oil depicting the outstretched arm of the Statue of Liberty.

Bush has added a painting of a small boy fishing from a bridge, and another of a man on horseback.

Is this art by some shlock artist, or Thomas Eakins? I'd be grateful if someone could settle this for me.



Lucas R. Blanco

June 3, 2004, 6:53 PM

For those who believe everything online click here: The White House tours
or for a tour that is straight from the horse's mouth click here (which is a bit funnier) From the desk of....
The white house "curator" fields questions here Bill Allman
Hope it helps....



June 3, 2004, 6:57 PM

I can't quite answer your question, but I believe your fear of schlock is unwarranted. The White House paintings are very nicely managed by the White House Historical Association, though they are often lent from other museums and instutions. The Historical Association even published a book in 1992 detailing all the White House's art, which you can buy at their book store. The Hassam work (donated 1963) is even featured prominently on the cover.

(Maybe Mr Clinton was struck by this book when it first appeared, shiny and new, in the gift shop down the hall, and wanted to put the cover work on his wall, just because he could. Or perhaps he wanted to impress the young shopkeeper[s] who showed him the book. One can never tell what compels great men.)

The book synopsis shows the painting of a boy fishing off a pier (not a bridge), but does not identify it. If you don't recognize the work, maybe the Historical Association can answer your question directly. I couldn't find it listed in their print store, though perhaps I overlooked it.

P.S. I suspect the "man on horseback" is A Charge to Keep by W.H.D. Koerner. I also suspect the Guardian article to which you linked dismisses it with barely a word because the ill-spirited author knew it holds symbolic meaning for the current first family, a fact made quite famous during the administration's early days.



June 3, 2004, 7:35 PM

Franklin, if you want to bash Bush, go right ahead, but this post has the faint whiff of a cheap shot, and I personally dislike this sort of forum being used for politically motivated purposes. Needless to say, it's your forum, and you can damn well do what you please with it, but you can do better than this. Considerably.



June 3, 2004, 8:03 PM

Lucas, Hovig, thanks.

Jack, noted. Hey, at least I gave him enough credit to say that the paintings could be Eakins. This is just one of those stinker posts to make you appreciate how good the good ones are.


Godless Roach

June 4, 2004, 1:26 AM

Nice comeback, Franklin. I don't mind people with simple tastes in art and I admire the fact that simple people can climb high in this country. Regardless, I dislike the bloke in office. He's a simple bum.



June 4, 2004, 3:52 AM

I just realized the link to "A Charge To Keep" above doesn't work when you link to it from an external site. Sorry about that. If you're a GW Bush fan, you can click on this page to see it. If you'd rather not visit a site affiliated with conservative politics, feel free to use this page instead. The image itself is competent and handsome, if perhaps unremarkable. It plays its role as a Saturday Evening Post illustration perfectly (1916).


one more

June 10, 2004, 7:38 PM

childe hassam's painting is also visible in this 1986 photo of reagan watching the challenger disaster from the white house.



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