Although Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of George Washington (also in the Museum’s collection) helped elevate the first president to the stature of “Father of Our Country,” this portrait of Andrew Jackson served a more blatantly political purpose. The artist, Ralph E. W. Earl, was “court painter” during Jackson’s eight years in the White House (1829-1837). In this capacity Earl produced numerous likenesses of the seventh president, standing and seated, full-size and half-length. These portraits were often acquired by Jackson’s supporters as tokens of loyalty. Here the artist represents “Old Hickory” as a quiet man of action, lionlike with his swept-back mane of hair. The law book and documents on the side table speak to Jackson the statesman, and the classical column and drapery impart dignity, even grandeur.
tags: communication, identity, place, power, work, US History, symbolism