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Lyndon B. Johnson

Artist
Peter Hurd, 22 Feb 1904 - Jul 1984
Sitter
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 27 Aug 1908 - 22 Jan 1973
Date
1967
Type
Painting
Medium
Tempera on wood
Dimensions
Panel: 120.7 x 94.6cm (47 1/2 x 37 1/4")
Frame: 141.3 x 116.2 x 11.4cm (55 5/8 x 45 3/4 x 4 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Peter Hurd
Object number
NPG.68.14
Exhibition Label
Thirty-sixth president, 1963–1969
Sworn in after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the nation’s most ambitious and idealistic chief executives. He worked tirelessly to create his “Great Society,” an America where prosperity and opportunity would exist through the efforts of a strong federal government.
A veteran legislator and master manipulator, Johnson used his skills to help pass laws that addressed such issues as poverty, education, and civil rights. His legacy, however, was tarnished when he applied a similarly aggressive approach to his foreign policy in Vietnam. With his approval rating plummeting, he chose not to run for reelection in 1968. Nevertheless, the war continued for another seven years. Peter Hurd was commissioned to make Johnson’s official portrait for the White House, but when the president viewed the finished painting, he declared it “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Hurd kept the work and gave it to the National Portrait Gallery when the museum opened in 1968. In exchange, the museum promised not to exhibit the portrait until after the president left office.
36o presidente, 1963–1969
Juramentado como presidente a la muerte de Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson fue uno de los mandatarios más ambiciosos e idealistas en la historia del país. Trabajó sin descanso en la creación de su “Gran Sociedad”, una nación donde hubiera prosperidad y oportunidades gracias a los esfuerzos de un robusto gobierno federal. Legislador veterano y expert manipulador, Johnson utilizó sus destrezas para lograr que se aprobaran leyes que atendieran problemas tales como la pobreza, la educación y los derechos civiles. Sin embargo, su legado se deslució cuando aplicó un enfoque igualmente enérgico a su política exterior en Vietnam. Dado el bajísimo nivel de aprobación de su gestión, decidió no postularse para la reelección en 1968. No obstante, la guerra continuó siete años más.
Peter Hurd recibió el encargo de hacer el retrato oficial de Johnson para la Casa Blanca, pero cuando el presidente vio la obra terminada declaró que era “la cosa más fea que he visto jamás”. Hurd conserve el cuadro y lo donó a la National Portrait Gallery cuando la misma abrió en 1968. A cambio de la donación, el museo prometió no exponer el retrato hasta que el presidente dejara el cargo.
Provenance
Commissioned by White House Historical Association but rejected by the sitter; artist donated 1968 to NPG.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
America's Presidents (Reinstallation September 2017)
On View
NPG, West Gallery 210