John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War

Charles Bird King1820/1820

Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, United States

Look down from the stern features of the ambitious South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun to the gestures of his masterfully painted hands. He points to a map illustrating proposals for forts and roads in newly surveyed areas of Missouri. As Secretary of War under President James Monroe, Calhoun advocated for federal sponsorship of such infrastructure projects. Based in Washington, D.C., painter Charles Bird King understood the political issues and problems of his day and incorporated them into his portraits of statesmen and Native American chiefs.



  • Title: John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War
  • Creator: Charles Bird King
  • Creator Lifespan: 1785/1862
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Washington D.C.
  • Creator Birth Place: Newport, RI
  • Date: 1820/1820
  • Location Created: Washington D.C., United States
  • Provenance: The commission for the painting came to Charles Bird King from Joseph Delaplaine of Philadelphia, who accumulated a gallery of portraits and published many of them in his Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans; The artist, or possibly Joseph Delaplaine, may have owned the work through 1825, based on repeated exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the artists' estate went to Redwood Library upon his death, yet this piece did not, indicating someone other than the artist owned the work.
  • Physical Dimensions: 36 1/8 x 28 1/2 in. (91.8 x 72.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of the Grandy Family in memory of C. Wiley Grandy
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps