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Monday, July 6, 2015

George W. Bush Portraits

Former President George W. Bush portrait,
John Howard Sanden, official White House portrait
I was born about three weeks after the end of WW II. That makes me one of the first of the so-called "baby boom" generation. I've always felt being among the first has served me well over my lifetime. Former President George W. Bush has a similar distinction. He was the first of the baby boom generation to be elected President of the United States. He beat former President Bill Clinton by forty-four days. They both beat the first Generation Xer, President Barrack Obama, by fifteen years. Future President George H.W. Bush (now ninety years of age) and his wife Barbara, then of New Haven, Connecticut, became the proud, first-time parents of new baby boy on July 6, 1946--sixty-nine years ago today. Happy birthday, Mr. President.

President George W. Bush by Robert Anderson, National Portrait Gallery
As with all recent presidents, George W. Bush has two official portraits, the one by John Howard Sanden (top) which hangs in the White House, and a second, in this case by Robert Anderson, belonging to the National Portrait Gallery (above). Bush must be a difficult subject. Neither portrait, both by highly reputable portrait artist, are particular good likenesses. Sanden's portrayal is the better of the two, yet lacks much more than a stereotypical photographic likeness. The NPG's less formal image by Anderson is troubled by a tired half-smile, which obscures the authenticity of the likeness.

George W. Bush Self-portrait
George W. Bush, Ronald Sherr
Both are a far cry better than Bush's attempt to capture his own likeness (above, left). The best Bush image, insofar as likeness is concerned, can be found in Robert Sherr's portrait (above, right) painted to match a similar one of the elder President Bush seen a few days ago. In fact, this portrait may be the better of the two. I remarked then that Bush should take lessons from Sherr. Sherr's portrait of George W. bears an expression I see as more pleasant and less strained than either of the other two. Also, the expression seems more accurate than even that which Sherr painted of the elder President Bush some years before.

President George W. Bush, Mark Carder, Union League, Philadelphia, PA
A third major portrait of former President George W. Bush hangs in Philadelphia's Union League (above). Painted by Mark Carder, has a somewhat stiff, bland look about it. However, there's nothing stiff or bland about the two unofficial portraits below, which, though not exactly flattering, are considerably more so than the vast majority of others I encountered in selecting them. The oval image juxtaposed with the penny (below, left) is a miniature painted by the husband-wife team of Wes and Rachelle Siegrist. With its warm distinctive smile, appears to much more closely coincide with the George W. Bush we've all come to know so well. It's roughly three inches tall. The portrait by K. Zerphii (below, right), is simply another indication that the former president, himself, isn't the only one who struggles to capture the face of the forty-third president on canvas.

President George W. Bush mminiature,
Wes and Rachelle Siegrist.
George W. Bush, 2007, K. Zerphii

Former first lady, Laura Bush, official White House
portrait, John Howard Sanden.


  1. I believe the artist shown above is Ronald Sherr, not Robert. His portrait of President Bush is spot on and by far the best of any I have seen!

  2. Thanks, Dave

    It looks like a typo to me. I had Ronbert rather the Ronald, trying to combine the two names, I guess. Thanks for reading and writing.