George Marshall

In spite of his international stature, George Marshall was portrayed in paintings and sculpture surprisingly few times. Marshall himself was largely responsible for this dearth. Always a man of limited patience, he allowed himself few interruptions. This was particularly true in the 1940s, when his official duties assumed worldwide status. Too often, his modesty and full schedule discouraged portrait sittings. The forty-five-minute session he gave to photographer Yousuf Karsh in 1944 was an exception. Karsh recalled that throughout the sitting, Marshall was "flatteringly agreeable and helpful." Several years later, British-born portraitist Thomas Edgar Stephens encountered a different Marshall altogether. While sitting for the oil portrait shown here, Marshall, then secretary of state, suddenly got up and left the room, and did not return. Later an aide explained to the bewildered artist that Marshall had thought of something urgent he needed to do. Stephens, however, succeeded in painting a lifelike portrait, one that Marshall highly approved.

George C. Marshall
Thomas Edgar Stephens (1886-1966)
Oil on canvas,
127 x 101.6 cm. (50 x 40 in.), circa 1949
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution;
Transfer from the National Gallery of Art;
Gift of Ailsa Mellon Bruce, 1951

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