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Theodore Roosevelt 1858–1919
In his 1898 portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, the newly minted hero of the Spanish American War, Charles Dana Gibson depicted an image of masculinity that echoed the subject's own notions. Scribner's magazine commissioned the drawing to accompany the first installment of Roosevelt's memoirs, "The Rough Riders." For this newsmaking illustration, Gibson downplayed the famous spectacles and toothy grin, cleverly drawing the pince-nez to blend almost invisibly into the face and emphasizing a stern expression and a stiff frontal posture. He also erased and repositioned the buttons to lengthen the muscular torso, further conveying a robust physicality. Even the restrained pencil technique, a contract to the slashing pen lines of his famous cartoons, adds to the dignity of the figure.

Roosevelt had overcome his youthful frailness through strenuous exercise, and respect for energetic vigor lay at the heart of his psyche. In his memoirs, Roosevelt praised the "robust and hardy qualities of body and mind" he found in his compatriots. Gibson, in this drawing, creates an iconic image that reflects the disciplined manliness that Roosevelt advocated, and, to many, embodied.

Charles Dana Gibson (1867–1944)
Graphite and conté crayon on paper, 1898
Original drawing for Scribner's magazine, January 1899
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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