John Howard Sanden, President George W. Bush, White House, 31 May 2012
The official presidential portrait recently unveiled. You can read the official details at the Wikipedia link. I'm only concerned with the painting itself, comparing it to what I consider a more appropriate rendering of a former occupant of the White House.
All I can tell you about the painter is that he is a fellow Texan. As information comes available I will add it. As for the painting itself, I don't much care for it in style, technique or pose. Bush looks to me as if he can't wait to leave, somewhat ill at ease in such a stiff pose.
Swedish painter Zorn, on the other hand, created a profoundly compelling image of an imposing occupant of the White House displaying his enormous bulk and direct eye contact on someone, probably cowering, to the left of the picture. Well, at least that's my opinion. He, too, may be concerned with how long the sitting would take, but that is not unusual for portrait subjects. The image is not full frame, and was taken from The Presidents of the United States of America by Frank Freidel and published by the White House Historical Association in 1964, and color printing not what it is today.
The White House Historical Association site on the Internet displays this image of the painting and may be closer in color to the original. Not ever having had the pleasure of seeing it in person, I can only guess. Maybe one of our viewers can enlighten us. In any case, I like this kind of portrait and the wonderful balance between the power of the subject and the painter. In my opinion, Taft did not intimidate Zorn, and vice versa. Great job!
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