All the president’s men: artist ‘astounded’ to see his Donald Trump painting hung in the White House
The artwork, which depicts Trump alongside past Republican presidents, was spotted during a 60 Minutes broadcast
The artist who painted a kitsch picture of Donald Trump grinning at a table with past Republican presidents including Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and both Bushes said he is “astounded” that it’s now hanging in the White House – but that he’s “rooting for” Trump.
Andy Thomas, a self-taught artist based in Carthage, Missouri, even admitted that he depicted Trump as slimmer than he is in real life.
“I do that with everyone, even self-portraits – it’s a feel-good painting and I make them as good looking as I can,” he said.
Thomas knew Trump had received the painting as a gift – from a Republican congressman who was already a fan of the artist – because the president had recently called him to congratulate him.
But he only found out the painting had been hung in the White House – close to the Oval Office – when it popped up as a backdrop during a TV interview broadcast on Sunday evening.
Eagle-eyed social media users spotted the unexpected item on the wall of the presidential dining room.
The internet lit up immediately when CBS tweeted an image of interviewer Lesley Stahl meeting Donald Trump for the sit-down for 60 Minutes, and behind them on the wall was the print.
“Trump with the poker playing dogs!” someone tweeted, evoking another famous, folksy painting showing canines around a table playing cards.
Thomas has previously produced a series of paintings showing groups of Democratic presidents and groups of Republican presidents playing poker and pool, or sitting around a table.
In the newest version now in the White House, he added Trump and made it look like a bar scene. The famously teetotal Trump appears to be accompanied by a glass of his favourite Diet Coke.
“Honest” Abe Lincoln appears to have water, Reagan has a gaudy cocktail, the others have various beverages. A cheery Gerald Ford stands behind Trump and a small variety of other former presidents, such as Grant and Coolidge, peep out from the backdrop.
“I work very hard on the presidents’ likenesses … there’s no satire,” said Thomas, who cited Norman Rockwell as one of his influences. He also admitted he’s a nostalgic painter, specialising in cowboy scenes.
Who is this figure in the Trump painting? pic.twitter.com/vCskkFukAU
— please fire ron (@danielshutt) October 15, 2018
— Irmin Wehmeier (@IrminWehmeier) October 15, 2018
— TheDrunkenTenor (@TheDrunkenTenor) October 16, 2018
In this newest gathering, Trump is in the middle of the picture. The fact that Trump would then hang that in the White House was entirely in character, Thomas said, both from the point of view of the president’s ego and his willingness to honour a piece of kitsch created by an ordinary voter.
“It’s really Donald Trump all over. It’s populist, and he’s not going to be shy that he’s the centre of attention. I like that – be yourself,” Thomas said.
In the painting, the infamously grim and corrupt Richard Nixon is shown laughing, on Trump’s left. Lincoln is opposite him and Reagan, George HW and George W Bush, an avuncular Theodore Roosevelt, and a tickled Dwight Eisenhower to Trump’s right.
Trump at centre stage wears a gleaming white shirt and his signature red tie. All the men appear to be sharing a joke.
Prints of the art, titled “The Republican Club” go for anywhere between US$155 to US$1,700 on Thomas’ website.
Previously talking to Time magazine, Thomas pointed out that he had also added a nod to feminism, as he put it, in his painting – the blurred image of a woman approaching the table out of the crowd.
He included a similar figure in his painting of Democratic presidents and told Time it represented a future female president, a confident figure who would not be intimidated approaching a table of powerful men.
Trump’s choice to hang the picture prominently at the White House, among hundreds of classical or historical works of art, echoes his decision to hang a portrait of himself in the bar at his Florida club Mar-a-Lago – a similarly folksy, if more amateurish, painting of a young Trump in sporting whites titled The Visionary.
Additional reporting by Tribune News Service