spacer Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan (1911–2004)
Fortieth President (1981-1989)

When ex-California governor Ronald Reagan began his presidency in 1981, his warmth and skill in handling the media had already planted the seeds of his reputation as the "great communicator." More significant, however, was how those traits were made to work on behalf of his conservative agenda. By the end of his second term, despite widespread concern over budget deficits and several administration scandals, Reagan's presidency had wrought many significant changes, heartily endorsed by the public at large. Under his leadership, the nation had undergone major tax reforms, witnessed a significant easing of relations with the Communist world, and experienced a sharp upturn in prosperity. In the wake of these developments, Reagan left office enjoying a popularity that only a few of his outgoing predecessors had ever experienced.

This portrait is based on some thirty studies that artist Henry Casselli made of Ronald Reagan over four days at the White House in late 1988. Commissioned with the National Portrait Gallery in mind, the finished picture arrived at the White House the following January for presidential inspection. When Reagan saw it, he exclaimed, "Yep! That's the old buckaroo."

Henry C. Casselli Jr. (born 1946)
Oil on canvas, 1989
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Herman Chanen, Tom Chauncey, and other friends of President and Mrs. Reagan
© Henry C. Casselli Jr.

Enlarged image