"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Martin Van Buren

This 1864 portrait of Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) by George P. A. Healy hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, on loan from the White House.
"Martin Van Buren's genius as a backroom strategist earned him the nickname of 'Little Magician.' But when he succeeded to the White House following his tenure as Andrew Jackson's vice president, the gift for orchestration that he had enlisted to promote Jackson's cause proved of little use in advancing his own. At the heart of the problem was an economic depression that persisted through most of his term and for which he was blamed. Damaging him further was a taste for the finer things of life, which led critics to portray him as indifferent to the country's suffering. Van Buren's reputation has improved, however, and today he is often lauded for his evenhanded foreign policy and landmark support for limiting the hours of workers on public projects.

This was one of the first likenesses that the White House acquired under an 1857 congressional act authorizing the purchase of presidential portraits. The artist named to do the work in the legislation was George P. A. Healy, one of mid-nineteenth­century America's most popular portraitists." -- National Portrait Gallery

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