An Artist Visits the White House Past

Paintings by Peter Waddell

The Splendid Mrs. Madison

In the “Elliptical Saloon”, 1810–1814

Dolley Madison was the first wife of a president to fully embrace her role as first lady. Her weekly levees at the President’s House were a politically neutral space. One visitor wrote of entering the “blazing splendor of Mrs. Madison’s drawing room,” designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe, and filled with political, military, and social figures of the day.


Design Historian John Burrows on The Splendid Mrs. Madison

"An Artist Visits the White House Past" (if no audio, click here)

In Depth

Read William Seale’s catalog essay for The Splendid Mrs. Madison, and discover the historical resources used to create the painting.

All images © the White House Historical Association except where otherwise noted.