An Artist Visits the White House Past

Paintings by Peter Waddell

Visitors from the East

President Buchanan Greets Visitors from Far Away, 1860

When President James Buchanan welcomed a delegation from Japan to the White House, the foreign visitors considered it lacking, without towers or a moat. They did admit it was “handsomely furnished.” The three samurai were the first Japanese ever to visit the United States, and they became instant celebrities. For their part, the Japanese considered America to be an inferior society, not likely to last long.


William Allman, Curator of the White House, on Visitors from the East

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

In Depth

Read William Seale’s catalog essay for Visitors from the East, and discover the historical resources used to create the painting.

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