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Feb 15, 2023 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association today released the 68th issue of its award-winning magazine, White House History Quarterly on pre-sale. The issue, “Art, Artists, and the White House,” focuses on the evolving White House Collection of Fine Art including the progression of styles and the lives and works of artists represented in the collection.

Marcia Anderson, editor of the Quarterly, writes, "A visit to the President’s House is a visit to an exceptional museum of America’s art. Many first-time guests may be surprised by the extent to which the paintings that line long corridors and fill stately rooms serve as an immersion into the American experience. Comprised of approximately five hundred paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the White House Collection of Fine Art chronicles the nation’s founders, leaders, and heroes, its monuments, shores, and natural wonders, and its victories, struggles, and iconic moments."

Articles included in this issue:

  • “The Official White House Portraits of President and Mrs. Barack Obama” - Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein interviews Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung, the artists commissioned to create the new portraits of President and Mrs. Barack Obama. The interview provides a special glimpse into the personal experiences of the artists and their processes for creating the works. This conversation occurred following the unveiling of the portraits on September 7, 2022.
  • “The Peales in the White House: America’s First Family of Artists” - Art Historian Carol Soltis, Curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, looks back to the earliest White House portraitists, specifically the Charles Willson Peale clan, a family of artists who captured from life the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and White House architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe among other notables.
  • “When Harry Met Pablo” - Author Matthew Algeo writes that not all presidents have embraced the avant-garde in his account of the day President Harry Truman spent with Pablo Picasso. Although modern art gave Truman nightmares, he was convinced to pay a visit to Picasso in France, and, while he might not have changed his mind about the art he found in the artist’s studio, the encounter itself made history.
  • Paint by Numbers: A Christmas Gift to President Dwight D. Eisenhower” -Curators at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum tell the story of how Dwight D. Eisenhower, a painter himself, was delighted when the 1950s craze for painting-by-numbers resulted in a unique Christmas gift from his staff and friends. Nelson Rockefeller, J. Edgar Hoover, and Ethel Merman were among the notables who contributed paintings to the collection of gifts, which Eisenhower proudly displayed in the West Wing and which are now on display at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.
  • “Andy Warhol Visits the White House” - Lauren McGwin, White House Historical Association Associate Vice President of Publishing, writes about the presidents who embraced the avant-garde as she chronicles pop artist Andy Warhol’s friendships with several presidential families including the Fords, Carters, and Reagans. Creating campaign posters and presidential portraits, Warhol was a frequent White House guest for nearly a decade.
  • “Isamu Noguchi’s Floor Frame: The First Work by an Asian American Artist” - Nikki Pisha, Associate Curator for Fine Art at the White House, explains that an ongoing goal in building the White House Collection is to ensure that the diversity of American artists is well represented. Pisha tells the story of the 2020 acquisition and installation of Isamu Noguchi’s Floor Frame, the first work by an Asian American in the collection. This article includes a biography of Noguchi and photographs of Floor Frame at the White House.
  • “Matthew Harris Jouett and Gilbert Stuart: Pupil and Master in the White House Collection”- Art historian Estill Curtis Pennington makes a convincing case for studying the attribution of a White House portrait of Thomas Jefferson—long believed to have been painted by artist Gilbert Stuart's student Matthew Harris Jouett—to Stuart himself.
  • “James Alexander Simpson: An Artist of the Early White House Neighborhood”- Author James H. Johnston presents the story of James Alexander Simpson, a prolific artist of the President’s Neighborhood in the early 19th century. Though few of his paintings survive today, Simpson’s extant works document the people and places of the nation’s capital that would have been known to the early presidents. He also painted images of Georgetown and the people who lived there.
  • “Tempest in a Gilded Frame” - White House Historical Association Historian Sarah E. Fling discusses the controversy of Love and Life, a painting given to the American people by the well-meaning English artist George Frederic Watts. The painting was banished to the Corcoran Gallery of Art by first ladies who found it inappropriate for the White House and was then later openly displayed by other first ladies who appreciated its quality. The work came and went from the White House for half a century.
  • “Presidential Sites Feature” – With this issue’s Presidential Sites feature, Author Ken Beckman presents the story of the birthplace of Gerald R. Ford. Once known as the grandest home in Omaha, Nebraska, Ford’s birthplace was lost to a fire in 1971. Beckman recounts how proud citizens transformed the neglected site to a park to honor the president.
  • “Reflections” - Stewart D. McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, closes the issue with a celebration of his top ten favorite pieces in the White House Collection of Fine Art.

This 120-page issue of White House History Quarterly retails for $12.95. To purchase a single issue, visit shop.whitehousehistory.org. To subscribe to the Quarterly, visit whitehousehistoryjournal.org.

To request a copy of White House History Quarterly #68, or interview the contributors, contact press@whha.org.

About White House History Quarterly

White House History Quarterly, published by the White House Historical Association since 1983, is now in its sixty-eighth issue. The Quarterly strives to present the broadest view of this personal American subject—the White House—featuring memoir, biography, history, and cultural context as it opens the doors of “America’s House” to America. Issues are thematic, shaped to tell a story from a particular angle, and the themes—from music, theater, fashion, art, entertaining, flowers and gardens, kitchens and cooking, presidential journeys and travel, memoir, and presidential kin and presidential sites—suggest the broad scope of the content. With editorial offices in Washington, D.C., at the Association's row house facing Lafayette Park across from the White House, White House History Quarterly is published four times each year. One, two, or three-year subscriptions, single copies, and bound collections of back issues are available.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org.

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