Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy 150th Birthday

Oil Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Artist John Singer Sargent painted Theodore Roosevelt in a pose worthy of the president’s bold manner. In 1901 President Roosevelt issued an executive order changing the official name of the Executive Mansion to the White House, and proceeded to redecorate it in 1902. While the original exterior of the White House was preserved, the interior layout changed dramatically. Roosevelt wanted the house to reflect its historical nature instead of a home filled with “modern” furniture.

Credit: White House Historical Association (White House Collection)

From a 2005 NYTimes article:

Mr. Allman, curator, then pointed to what is considered the best portrait in the
collection, a John Singer Sargent of a forceful, irritated Theodore Roosevelt
that hangs in an East Room corner. Sargent took up residence in the White House
in the winter of 1903 for portrait sittings, but soon drove the president to
distraction by chasing him around trying to decide on the right pose. The final
portrait captures Roosevelt in a particularly exasperated moment with the
artist. "I don't think the president wanted to share as much time as Mr. Sargent
was hoping to have," Mr. Allman said.

And from John Milton Hay (1838–1905) American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, a poem -

To Theodore Roosevelt

Son of a sire whose heart beat ever true
To God, to country, and the fireside love
To which returning, like a homing dove,
From each high duty done, he gladly flew,
Complete, yet touched by genius through and through,
The lofty qualities that made him great,
Loved in his home and priceless to the state,
By Heaven's grace are garnered up in you.
Be yours, we pray, the dauntless heart of youth,
The eye to see the humor of the game,
The scorn of lies, the large Batavian mirth;
And, past the happy, fruitful years of fame,
Of sport and work and battle for the truth,
A home not all unlike your home on earth.

Christmas Eve, 1902.

John Hay

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