2017

Portrait of an Agency 

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum

Secretarial Portraits at the U.S. Department of the Interior

Secretarial Portraits
Since the U.S. Department of the Interior's founding in 1849, more than 50 men and women have served as secretary of the Interior. They have been lawyers, administrators or politicians. Others still have come from academia, corporate America and even the field of medicine. For most, Interior represented one of many stops in a career of public service; for a few, it was the only public office ever held. Out of somewhat schizophrenic origins as a "bucket of executive fragments" coalesced a U.S. Department of the Interior responsible for a portfolio of the nation's most pressing concerns and most precious resources. As the country expanded, so too did the role of the Department, and yet many of the issues secretaries faced in the 19th century still resonate with their contemporaries in the 21st. The average tenure of a secretary of the Interior is approximately three and a half years. Whether serving as few as 12 days or for more than 12 years, each secretary has left a mark on the office. While it is difficult to generalize about such a diverse group over the span of three separate centuries, they have all resided at the intersection of presidential agendas, congressional acts, current events and public opinion. In balancing development with stewardship they commit to deal directly in the arenas about which Americans care so passionately. The tradition of secretarial portraiture is as old as the federal agencies themselves. Typically the portraits are commissioned near the end of a term and are painted from life. The artists who have rendered them are often among the most renowned portraitists of their eras. These portraits are held in trust for the American people as part of the collection of the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum. To trace the history of the Department through these portraits is to gain unique insight into American history.

1st Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, 1849–1850

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE ARTWORK AND A BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY, CLICK ON THE PORTRAIT.

This is one of two secretarial portraits painted by John Mix Stanley, an artist-explorer widely respected for his landscapes of the American West and portraits of American Indians. A fire in 1865 destroyed most of Stanley's work, so his surviving pieces are relatively scarce.

2nd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Millard Fillmore, 1850

Artist Henry Salem Hubbell (1870-1949) ultimately painted portraits of 17 secretaries of the Interior. Thirty-second secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes considered the artist a family friend and owned some of his works, so it was not surprising that Ickes turned to him to paint his official secretarial portrait in 1934. When Ickes learned that several past secretarial portraits had been rendered simply as crayon drawings incongruous with the other existing paintings, he again enlisted Hubbell. The artist took the additional commissions very seriously. Since many secretaries were long since deceased, Hubbell conducted exhaustive research to ensure faithful likenesses, including corresponding with secretaries' descendants to verify eye color and hair style, and—where available—consulting photographs and other known works.

3rd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Millard Fillmore, 1850–1853

4th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Franklin Pierce, 1853–1857

5th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President James Buchanan, 1857–1861

6th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Abraham Lincoln, 1861–1862

7th Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, 1863–1865

8th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Andrew Johnson, 1865–1866

9th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Andrew Johnson, 1866–1869

10th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ulysses S. Grant, 1869–1870

11th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ulysses S. Grant, 1870–1875 [Image is detail of full portrait]

12th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ulysses S. Grant, 1875–1877 {Image is detail of full portrait]

13th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877–1881

14th Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, 1881–1882

15th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Chester A. Arthur, 1882–1885

16th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Grover Cleveland, 1885–1888

17th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Grover Cleveland, 1888–1889

18th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Benjamin Harrison, 1889–1893

19th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Grover Cleveland, 1893–1896

20th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Grover Cleveland, 1896–1897 {Image is detail of full portrait]

21st Secretary of the Interior | Served under President William McKinley, 1897–1899

22nd Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, 1899–1907

23rd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Theodore Roosevelt, 1907–1909

24th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President William Howard Taft, 1909–1911 {Image is detail of full portrait}

25th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President William Howard Taft, 1911–1913

26th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Woodrow Wilson, 1913–1920

27th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Woodrow Wilson, 1920–1921

28th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Warren G. Harding, 1921–1923

29th Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, 1923–1928 {Image is detail of full portrait}

30th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Calvin Coolidge, 1928–1929

31st Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Herbert Hoover, 1929–1933 {Image is detail of full portrait}

32nd Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, 1933–1946

33rd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Harry S. Truman, 1946–1949

Greta Kempton was Krug's portraitist and the only female artist to have painted a secretary of the Interior's portrait. She was friends with President Truman and received portrait commissions from many members of Truman's Cabinet.

34th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Harry S. Truman, 1949–1953

35th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953–1956

In this portrait Secretary McKay is wearing a Purple Heart Ribbon lapel pin. He was awarded the Purple Heart for life-threatening injuries sustained in 1918 during World War I that left him partially disabled.

36th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956–1961

37th Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1961–1969

38th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Richard M. Nixon, 1969–1970

39th Secretary of the Interior | Served under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, 1971–1975

40th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Gerald R. Ford, 1975

This is one of three portraits at Interior signed "CJ Fox."

Charles J. Fox—purportedly the son of a prominent Austrian artist—was actually Leo Fox, an art dealer with elite social connections. An IRS investigation in 1978 revealed that Fox had adopted a pseudonym for tax evasion purposes. For decades the true artist behind the high-profile commissions was Russian immigrant Irving Resnikoff, who would work from photographs Fox provided of the portrait subjects. These misattributed portraits also appear in several state capitols and at the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Justice.

41st Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Gerald R. Ford, 1975–1977

42nd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Jimmy Carter, 1977–1981

43rd Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ronald Reagan, 1981–1983

Note Watt's lapel pin. The Departmental seal traditionally depicts a bison in left profile. Watt, however, proposed a right-facing bison to reflect the political orientation of his administration. While the change never went into effect, Watt had lapel pins made, and he wore one for this portrait.

44th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ronald Reagan, 1983–1985

45th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Ronald Reagan, 1985–1989

46th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President George H. W. Bush, 1989–1993

47th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Bill Clinton, 1993–2001

48th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President George W. Bush, 2001–2006

49th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President George W. Bush, 2006–2009

50th Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Barack Obama, 2009–2013

This painting by Colorado-based artist and sculptor Charles Ewing is the first official Interior portrait to include a secretary's family members. Depicted at their Colorado ranch are Secretary Ken Salazar, his wife Hope, daughters Andrea and Melinda and granddaughter Mireya.

51st Secretary of the Interior | Served under President Barack Obama, 2013–2016

Secretary Jewell’s official portrait depicts a sunrise over Washington’s Mount Rainier, the first national park Jewell recalls visiting as a child and a peak she has summited multiple times. She selected this location due to its U.S. Department of the Interior connections as well, since the mountain is both a national park and an active volcano studied and monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Secretary Jewell often quoted the proverb, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children,” and the trail workers sharing the scene collectively represent the youth and public stewardship initiatives that helped define Jewell’s legacy at Interior.

Presented by the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum
Credits: Story

Portrait of an Agency
U.S. Department of the Interior Museum
Tracy Baetz, Chief Curator

To view a related public lecture, Within These Halls: A Beyond-the-Frame Look at Secretarial Portraiture presented on July 13, 2016, see
https://youtu.be/Fn3sd0Yei9U


The brief biographies of the secretaries were compiled from a variety of primary and secondary materials, including contemporaneous newspaper articles, official Departmental records and correspondence, and published obituaries. Selected additional resources include:


Crampton, Louis C. The Department of the Interior: Its History and Proper Functions. December 1932.


The Department of the Interior in the Age of the Civil War. Eastern National, 2012.


History of the Cabinet of the United States of America, from President Washington to President Coolidge, An Account of the Origins of the Cabinet, A Roster of the Various Members with the Term of Service, and Biographical Sketches of Each Member, Showing Public Offices Held by Each. Baltimore: The Industrial Printing Company, 1925.


Trani, Eugene. Secretaries of the Department of the Interior, 1849-1969. Washington, DC: National Anthropological Archives, 1975.


University of Colorado Boulder | Center of the American West
https://www.centerwest.org/projects/interior/inside-interior
For transcripts of interviews with seven former secretaries of the Interior

University of Virginia | Miller Center
https://www.millercenter.org
For synopses and essays on administrations of American Presidents and brief biographical information on their Cabinet members

Utley, Robert M. and Barry Mackintosh. The Department of Everything Else: Highlights of Interior History National Park Service, 1989.
https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/utley-mackintosh/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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