Monday, February 12, 2018

Lincoln's birthday

Happy birthday, Abraham Lincoln!

Unknown artist, portrait of Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood (1830-1917), first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, in a campaign poster from her first presidential race, in 1884. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Abraham and Tad Lincoln, 1865, in a photo by Alexander Gardner. Looking for an unfamiliar picture of Lincoln in the NPG collections is what set me off on this,

It's probably not right to reproduce this Chuck Close portrait of Bill Clinton (2006) in any size short of its original 108 X 84-inch format, it looks terrible, but it's an example of something important in the Smithsonian collection.

Norman Rockwell, reputed to be a much better painter than he's reputed to be, chose Richard Nixon in 1968, of all years, as a model for a painting of what it feels like when you cut off all the blood circulation in your right arm so that it has no sensation at all and then drape it, a huge heavy object twice the size of the real arm on your left, over the back of a sofa,. "Who the hell left their arm on my couch? What, that's my arm? The hell you say!" If it looked at all like Nixon (it looks a little like my brother) it might look stranger still.

John F. Kennedy #3, charcoal, by Elaine De Kooning, 1963, from a series of sketches made as they were conversing, so that she later said she'd been sketching from memory, as he moved around so much she was never drawing the face she was looking at.

Painting, also 1963, from Elaine De Kooning, but this time recognizably by her. 

"Out Shining Everyone in Humiliation at Albany", Thomas Nast, depicting Vice President Chester A. Arthur, depicted polishing the shoes of members of his New York Republican machine, the Stalwarts, as he receives the news of the assassination of President Garfield in the same nexus of office-selling corruption that Arthur was sunk in. To be fair, Arthur got religion on the subject of political corruption from the horrible way in which he'd become president, and his single accomplishment in the office, the 1883 Civil Service Reform, was one of the sole highlights of the crappy era between Reconstruction and Progressivism.

And then these, unveiled today, which I'm really liking extremely, the most vital and interesting images I've seen all day:

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