title: Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century

Theodore Roosevelt By President Roosevelt's last year in the White House, he had long grown tired of requests to sit to photographers and portrait painters. Only as a favor to an old friend from England, Arthur Lee, did he agree to sit for a portrait by the accomplished Hungarian born artist, Philip A. de Laszlo. The sittings took place in the spring of 1908, about which Roosevelt reported enthusiastically to Lee. "I took a great fancy to Laszlo himself," he wrote, "and it is the only picture which I really enjoyed having painted." Laszlo encouraged the President to invite guests to the sittings to keep Roosevelt entertained. "And if there weren't any visitors," said Roosevelt, "I would get Mrs. Laszlo, who is a trump, to play the violin on the other side of the screen." When the painting was finished, Roosevelt said that he liked it "better than any other."

Ten years later, however, Roosevelt expressed a preference for Sargent's portrait, done in 1903, which he thought had "a singular quality, a blend of both the spiritual and the heroic." Still he thought that Mrs. Roosevelt favored Laszlo's more relaxed image, a trademark of the artist's ingratiating style.

Roosevelt near the end of his presidency
Adrian Lamb (1901-1988)
after the 1908 oil by Philip Alexius de Laszlo
Oil on canvas, 1967
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gift of the Theodore Roosevelt Association


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