spacer Grover Cleveland Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)
Twenty-second President (1885-1889)
Twenty-fourth President (1893-1897)

When New York Governor Grover Cleveland first heard about the drive among fellow Democrats to make him President, it put him off. But in an age noted for its political graft, Cleveland's unflinching rectitude was a vote-getting asset not to be ignored, and his nomination for the presidency in 1884 was almost unavoidable.

Once elected, however, Cleveland offended many with his rough honesty and call for reduced tariffs, and in 1888 he lost his bid for reelection. But in 1893 he was back in the presidency just as the country entered a deep economic depression. Unfortunately, Cleveland's conservative response to this crisis alienated many, and he left office largely discredited, even within much of his own party, which had actually repudiated some of his key policies at its national convention of 1896.

The painter of this portrait, the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, drew his loose brushwork and preference for natural lighting from French Impressionism. Cleveland was quite pleased with Zorn's likeness, declaring to a correspondent, "As for my ugly mug, I think the artist has 'struck it off' in great shape."

Anders Zorn (1860-1920)
Oil on canvas, 1899
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of the Reverend Thomas G. Cleveland

Enlarged image