spacer Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)
Thirty-fourth President (1953-1961)

As the general who directed the Allied victory in Europe during World War II, Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed a popularity that made him eminently ripe for a presidential candidacy. But not until 1952 did this man with his politically potent grin finally succumb to Republicans' urgings that he seek the nation's highest office.

After Eisenhower left the White House in 1961, many experts felt that he had not been a particularly effective chief executive. They faulted him for being slow to use his influence to gain compliance with court-ordered racial integration of public schools and claimed that his confrontational strategies in blocking the spread of Communism sometimes added unnecessarily to Cold War tensions. Such criticisms became more muted, however, in the face of a growing appreciation for his administration's sound fiscal policies and its efforts to promote peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union while maintaining a strong posture against its aggressive moves to promote Communism in the world.

While posing for this portrait by Thomas Stephens, Eisenhower expressed an urge to try his own hand at painting. At a rest break, Stephens handed him a brush and told him to have a go. Within a month, painting had become one of Eisenhower's hobbies.

Thomas Edgar Stephens (1886-1966)
Oil on canvas, 1947
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art
Gift of Ailsa Mellon Bruce

Enlarged image