Grover and Frances Cleveland have gotten together again, just in time for their 92nd wedding anniversary.
Grover Cleveland, to whom historians are becoming more kind, was heretofore notable mainly as the only split-term president and the first White House bridegroom. Frances Cleveland, who graduated from being his ward to being his wife, is notable as the first First Lady who had to go around telling people that the president did not beat her.
Anyway, here it is their anniversary today, and the National Portrait Gallery has put on display companion portraits of the couple painted by Swedish artist Anders Zorn during Cleveland's second term.
If Cleveland did beat his wife he must have used a stick, because as painted by Zorn he has hardly any hands. "Since our mission is largely historical, artistic merit is only one of our criteria," a Gallery spokeswoman said. Zorn later became famous, she said. He "rivaled Sargent in the brilliance of his brushwork," she said.
Historians seeking to revise posterity's perception of Cleveland as a stump will get no help from the portrait; only Zorn's notes indicate that it was painted from life.
"During the course of the work I sought to interest the old man by turning the picture one way and another and asking his advice as to whether he thought I should move a line here or if I should have more of this colour there," Zorn wrote.
"This seems to have awakened something in him which he had not previously realized - what art was - Thus he would say, 'I believe you are right, this line should be there, etc.'" Zorn did not go on to say who told him what art was.
After it became clear, in 1908, that her husband had died, Mrs. Cleveland remarried. Her Portrait was donated by her granddaughter, Frances Cleveland Payne. That of the president was given by their grandson, Thomas G. Cleveland.
The paintings will hang indefinitely in the Gallery's first floor reception area, open daily 10 to 5:30, at Eighth and F Streets NW.