Politician Aims at Ending Oil Portrait Practice in Government

  • July 18, 2013 13:41

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Posthumous official presidential portrait of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Signed "Shikler '70"

Government offices adorned with oil portraits of politicians and public officials should be a thing of the past, according to one Louisiana Republican.

Rep. Bill Cassidy wants to end the practice of government-funded portraiture.

“My staff helped it come to my attention that retiring cabinet secretaries were getting oil paintings at $20,000 to $40,000 a throw that were typically hung in halls in which the general public could never walk,” Cassidy told POLITICO.

He introduced the “Eliminating Government Funded Oil Painting Act” this week. Critics point out that the portraits constitute a very small budget.

“I guess I haven’t been here so long for $40,000 for a single painting to not be a lot of money," Cassidy says. 

In the past two years alone, the Obama administration has spent almost $400,000 on oil portraits, a smaller amount than previous administrations.

Some of the most enduring images of U.S. leaders, before and after the introduction of photography, have been rendered by artists in oil. From memorable images of early leaders by the likes of Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Sully, Benjamin West and Gilbert Stuart, to contemporary artists such as Shepard Fairey who created one of the most emblematic images of President Obama.

Read more at Politico

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