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Martha Greta Kempton, 22 Mar 1903 - 9 Dec 1991
Harry S Truman, 8 May 1884 - 26 Dec 1972
Oil on canvas
Sight: 94.6 x 74.3cm (37 1/4 x 29 1/4")
Frame: 116.8 x 96.5 x 6.4cm (46 x 38 x 2 1/2")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Dean Acheson, Thomas C. Clark, John W. Snyder, Robert A. Lovett, Clinton P. Anderson, Charles F. Brannan, Charles Sawyer, W. Averell Harriman, David K. E. Bruce, Edward H. Foley, Stuart Symington, William McChesney Martin, Clark Clifford, Charles S. Murphy, Ward M. Canaday, and Joseph Stack
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When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, his successor, Vice President Harry Truman, felt as if the weight of the world had fallen on him. Feeling woefully unprepared, he now had the responsibility for guiding the country through the final phases of World War II and the often-jolting adjustments to peace.
Elected to the presidency in his own right in 1948, Truman had his greatest impact in foreign policy. His most notable achievements included defeating Communist takeovers in Greece and Turkey and repelling the USSR's attempt to push the West out of Berlin. Truman also presided over implementation of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe's war-torn economies-a strategy that may be the greatest triumph in the annals of American diplomacy.
The Vienna-born Greta Kempton was Harry Truman's favorite portraitist. Shortly after she finished what would become his official White House likeness in 1947, she began this portrait. The picture was finally completed in 1970, when former members of Truman's administration presented it to the National Portrait Gallery.