1968 portrait of Pres. Richard Nixon by Norman Rockwell
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) Thirty-seventh President (1969-1974)
Richard Nixon owed his early prominence and election as Dwight Eisenhower's Vice President to his reputation as an anti-Communist militant. By the time he became President in 1968, however, his thinking about relationships between the Communist and free worlds had shifted considerably. As a result, under his leadership, the confrontational strategies that had long dominated this country's response to Communism gave way to a historic d‚tente, marked by American recognition of Communist China and warmer relations with the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, these diplomatic achievements were eventually overshadowed by disclosure of the Watergate scandals a web of illegal activity involving scores of Nixon's advisers. Though never implicated in the original crimes themselves, Nixon did become party to attempts to cover them up. Following irrefutable disclosure of that fact, he became the only President ever to resign from office.
Artist Norman Rockwell admitted that he had intentionally flattered Nixon in this portrait. The reason he did, Rockwell said, was that Nixon's appearance was troublesomely elusive, and if he was going to err in his portrayal, he wanted it to be at least in a direction that would please the subject.
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
oil on canvas, 1968
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
donated to the People of the United States of America by the Richard Nixon Foundation