Décor & Art: Overview

The White House, constructed between 1792 and 1800, is the official residence of the President of the United States and a living museum of American history. The White House’s collection of fine and decorative arts includes historic objects associated with the White House and the Presidency and significant or representative works by a variety of American and European artists and craftsmen that are consistent with the historic character of the house. Since 1800 when the first work of art, the full-length portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, was acquired for the President's House, objects including paintings, sculpture, furniture, and china have been purchased by, or donated to, the White House for the enjoyment of the First Families and their guests in this ever-changing historic structure. The public also is welcomed into the public rooms to learn about the White House - its history, occupants, and collection.

  • George Washington

    Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, 1797. Learn more.

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  • John Adams

    Portrait of John Adams by John Trumbull, c. 1792-93. Learn more.

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  • Thomas Jefferson

    Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800. Learn more.

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  • James Madison

    Portrait of James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816. Learn more.

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  • James Monroe

    Portrait of James Monroe by Samuel Morse, c. 1819. Learn more.

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  • John Quincy Adams

    Portrait of John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1818. Learn more.

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  • Andrew Jackson

    Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Ralph E.W. Earl, c. 1835. Learn more.

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  • Martin Van Buren

    Portrait of Martin Van Buren by Francis Alexander, ~1830-40. Learn more.

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  • William Harrison

    Portrait of William Harrison by James R. Lambdin, 1835. Learn more.

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  • John Tyler

    Portrait of John Tyler by George P. A. Healy, 1859. Learn more.

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  • James Polk

    Portrait of James Polk by George P. A. Healy, 1858. Learn more.

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  • Zachary Taylor

    Portrait of Zachary Taylor by Joseph Henry Bush, 1848. Learn more.

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  • Millard Fillmore

    Portrait of Millard Fillmore by George P.A. Healy, 1957. Learn more.

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  • Franklin Pierce

    Portrait of Franklin Pierce by George P.A. Healy, 1858. Learn more.

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  • James Buchanan

    Portrait of James Buchanan by William Merritt Chase, 1902. Learn more.

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  • Abraham Lincoln

    Portrait of Abraham Lincoln by George P.A. Healy, 1869. Learn more.

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  • Andrew Johnson

    Portrait of Andrew Johnson by Eliphalet Andrews, 1880. Learn more.

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  • Ulysses S. Grant

    Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant by unknown, late 1800s. Learn more.

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  • Rutherford B. Hayes

    Portrait of Rutherford B. Hayes by Daniel Huntington, 1884. Learn more.

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  • James Garfield

    Portrait of James Garfield by Calvin Curtis, 1881. Learn more.

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  • Chester Arthur

    Portrait of Chester Arthur by Daniel Huntington, 1885. Learn more.

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  • Grover Cleveland

    Portrait of Grover Cleveland by Eastman Johnson, 1891. Learn more.

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  • Benjamin Harrison

    Portrait of Benjamin Harrison by Eastman Johnson, 1895. Learn more.

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  • William McKinley

    Portrait of William McKinley by Harriet Murphy, 1902. Learn more.

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  • Theodore Roosevelt

    Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent, 1903. Learn more.

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  • William Howard Taft

    Portrait of William Howard Taft by Anders Zorn, 1911. Learn more.

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  • Woodrow Wilson

    Portrait of Woodrow Wilson by S. Seymour Thomas, 1913. Learn more.

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  • Warren G. Harding

    Portrait of Warren G. Harding by Edmund Hodgson Smart, 1923. Learn more.

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  • Calvin Coolidge

    Portrait of Calvin Coolidge by Charles Hopkinson, 1921. Learn more.

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  • Herbert Hoover

    Portrait of Herbert Hoover by Elmer Wesley Greene, 1956. Learn more.

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  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt by Frank Salisbury, 1947. Learn more.

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  • Harry S. Truman

    Portrait of Harry S. Truman by Martha Greta Kempton, 1947. Learn more.

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  • Dwight Eisenhower

    Portrait of Dwight Eisenhower by J. Anthony Wills, 1967. Learn more.

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  • John F. Kennedy

    Portrait of John F. Kennedy by Aaron Shikler, 1970. Learn more.

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  • Lyndon B. Johnson

    Portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson by Elizabeth Shoumatoff, 1968. Learn more.

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  • Richard Nixon

    Portrait of Richard Nixon by James Anthony Wills, 1984. Learn more.

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  • Gerald Ford

    Portrait of Gerald Ford by Everett Raymond Kinstler, 1977. Learn more.

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  • Jimmy Carter

    Portrait of Jimmy Carter by Herbert Abrams, 1982. Learn more.

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  • Ronald Reagan

    Portrait of Ronald Reagan by Everett Raymond Kinstler, 1991. Learn more.

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  • George H. W. Bush

    Portrait of George H. W. Bush by Herbert E. Abrams, 1994. Learn more.

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  • William Clinton

    Portrait of William Clinton by Simmi Knox, 2001. Learn more.

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  • George W. Bush

    Portrait of George W. Bush by John Howard Sanden, 2012. Learn more.

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  • Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

    Portrait of Martha Washington by Eliphalet F. Andrews, 1878. Learn more.

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  • Abigail Smith Adams

    Portrait of Abigail Adams from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson

    Portrait of Martha Jefferson from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Dolley Payne Todd Madison

    Portrait of Dolley Madison by Gilbert Stuart, 1804. Learn more.

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  • Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

    Portrait of Elizabeth Monroe from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

    Portrait of Louisa Johnson Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1821-26. Learn more.

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  • Rachel Donelson Jackson

    Portrait of Rachel Jackson from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Angelica Singleton Van Buren

    Portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren by Henry Inman, 1842.

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  • Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison

    Portrait of Anna Harrison coming soon. Learn more.

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  • Letitia Christian Tyler

    Portrait of Letitia Tyler coming soon. Learn more.

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  • Julia Gardiner Tyler

    Portrait of Julia Gardiner Tyler from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Sarah Childress Polk

    Portrait of Sarah Polk coming soon. Learn more.

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  • Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor

    Portrait of Margaret Taylor from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Abigail Powers Fillmore

    Portrait of Abigail Fillmore from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Jane Means Appleton Pierce

    Portrait of Jane Pierce from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Harriet Lane

    Portrait of Harriet Lane from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Mary Todd Lincoln

    Portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln by Katherine Helm, 1925. Learn more.

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  • Eliza McCardle Johnson

    Portrait of Eliza Johnson from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Julia Dent Grant

    Portrait of Julia Grant from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Lucy Ware Webb Hayes

    Portrait of Lucy Hayes from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Lucretia Rudolph Garfield

    Portrait of Lucretia Garfield from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur

    Portrait of Ellen Arthur from the Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Frances Folsom Cleveland

    Portrait of Frances Cleveland from the WHHA, Library of Congress. Learn more.

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  • Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison

    Portrait of Caroline Harrison from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Ida Saxton McKinley

    Portrait of Ida McKinley from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Edith Kermit Cardow Roosevelt

    Portrait of Edith Roosevelt from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Helen Herron Taft

    Portrait of Helen Taft by Bror Kronstrand, 1910. Learn more.

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  • Ellen Axson Wilson

    Portrait of Ellen Wilson from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

    Portrait of Edith Wilson from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Florence Kling Harding

    Portrait of Florence Harding from the WHHA WH Collection. Learn more.

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  • Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

    Portrait of Grace Coolidge by Howard Christy, 1924. Learn more.

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  • Lou Henry Hoover

    Portrait of Lou Hoover by Richard Brown, P. de Laszlo, 1950. Learn more.

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  • Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

    Portrait of Anna Roosevelt by Douglas Chandor, 1949. Learn more.

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  • Elizabeth Virginia Wallace Truman

    Portrait of Elizabeth Truman from the WHHA. Learn more.

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  • Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower

    Portrait of Mamie Eisenhower by Thomas Stephens, 1959. Learn more.

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  • Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy

    Portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy by Aaron Shikler, 1970. Learn more.

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  • Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson

    Portrait of Claudia Johnson by Elizabeth Shoumatoff, 1968. Learn more.

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  • Patricia Ryan Nixon

    Portrait of Patricia Nixon by Henriette Wyeth, 1978. Learn more.

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  • Elizabeth Bloomer Ford

    Portrait of Elizabeth Ford by Felix de Cossio, 1977. Learn more.

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  • Rosalynn Smith Carter

    Portrait of Rosalynn Carter by George Augusta, 1984. Learn more.

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  • Nancy Davis Reagan

    Portrait of Nancy Reagan by Aaron Shikler, 1987. Learn more.

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  • Barbara Pierce Bush

    Portrait of Barbara Bush by Chas Fagan, 2005. Learn more.

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  • Hillary Rodham Clinton

    Portrait of Hillary Clinton by Simmie Knox, 2003. Learn more.

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  • Laura Welch Bush

    Portrait of Laura Welch Bush by John Howard Sanden, 2012. Learn more.

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How Portraits of US Presidents and First Ladies Are Chosen

The process of selecting a portrait or an artist to paint a portrait for the White House has evolved over the years. During the nineteenth century, presidential portraits were accepted for the Executive Mansion by the congressional committees on the library. It was a rather informal process. No attempt was made to secure a likeness while the president was in office or, for that matter, immediately after his departure. No attempt was made to acquire life portraits or paintings of high quality. The only requirement appeared to be that the portrait looked like the president. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, outgoing presidents were informed by the commissioner of public buildings and grounds of appropriated funds available for their portraits by artists of their choosing. If a president died before an official portrait was painted, often the family chose a likeness for the White House collection. With the exception of the large painting of Martha Dandridge Washington by Eliphalet Andrews (1878), which was executed originally on speculation, no public funds were provided for portraits of first ladies. Likenesses of the first ladies were, for the most part, not actively pursued during the nineteenth century. When made available, they were accepted as gifts; the first of these was of Julia Gardiner Tyler, which she herself brought to the White House in the time of President Andrew Johnson.

Since 1967, the White House Historical Association has taken an active role in acquiring and donating portraits of recent presidents and first ladies. The artists are selected and the completed portraits approved by the subjects before formal acquisition into the collection. With the formation of White House advisory committees—the Fine Arts Committee in 1961 and later the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, permanently established by Executive Order in 1964—it has been a goal to acquire contemporary or historic portraits of presidents and first ladies painted from life, either to represent those not in the collection or to replace earlier likenesses judged less than successful.