The Washington Post

President’s Day: How artists paint the president

Once you enter the political arena, your image is no longer in your control. There will be political cartoons and caricatures, certainly — but also, if you become president, a formal and dignified official portrait to mark your tenure in America’s highest office. We remember presidents for the policies they pushed, the speeches they gave, their moments of courage and weakness — and the way they were portrayed by artists and photographers, who can influence our perception of a president through their aesthetic choices.

We’ve gathered together a variety of great artistic representations of presidents throughout history — whether they’re dignified formal portraits or the offbeat paintings of President Obama by artists Ron English or Dan Lacey, “Painter of Pancakes.” Take a look.

View Photo Gallery: Artists have depicted our commander in chief in dignified, formal portraits and playful caricature.

Related: Who was the most underrated president?

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Program turns prisoners into poets
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
Play Videos
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
The art of tortilla-making
A man committed to journalism, caught in the crossfire
Play Videos
Tips for (relatively) stress-free dining out with kids
How to get organized for back to school
How the new credit card chip makes purchases more secure