Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl, c. 1788 - 1838
Andrew Jackson, 15 Mar 1767 - 8 Jun 1845
Oil on canvas
Sight: 76.5 x 65.1cm (30 1/8 x 25 5/8")
Frame: 94.3 x 81 x 9.2cm (37 1/8 x 31 7/8 x 3 5/8")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942; frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Restrictions & Rights
With the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, no nineteenth-century president wielded his powers more aggressively than Andrew Jackson, which is confirmed by his use of the presidential veto over Congress. Unlike his predecessors, who invoked that power on strictly constitutional grounds, Jackson vetoed key congressional measures, not because he deemed them illegal, but simply because he did not like them. In doing so, he set a precedent that vastly enlarged the presidential role in congressional lawmaking.
Among Jackson's opponents, this executive activism drew charges of dictatorship. Those accusations, however, carried little weight among yeoman farmers and laborers, who doted on Jackson's professed opposition to elitism.
This portrait, showing Jackson in military uniform, recalls his early fame as the general who roundly defeated the British at New Orleans during the War of 1812. The painter of the picture, Ralph E. W. Earl, eventually attached himself to Jackson's household and spent much of his time filling the considerable demand for Jackson's likeness.
John Decker (dates unknown); Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York; The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942; transferred 1965 to NPG.