JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1984A VISIT TO THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) JFK+50 had the opportunity to visit the National Portrait Gallery* here in the Nation's Capital for the first time a week ago today.
The Gallery, located at 8th and F Streets just south of Chinatown, occupies the Old Patent Office Building which dates back to the mid 1800s. The building has undergone extensive renovations including the one completed in 2006 at a cost of $283 million.
The National Portrait Gallery was authorized by Congress in 1962 "to acquire and display portraits of men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture of the people of the United States."
The Gallery's portraits, the foundation of which came from the collection of Andrew W. Mellon, includes the nation's only complete collection of presidential portraits outside the White House.
The collection includes William F. Draper's** oil on canvas 1966 portrait of President John F. Kennedy. According to the Gallery's website, the artist's "depiction of Kennedy in a rocking chair was unintentionally ironic because, unknown at the time, the young and 'vigorous' President was beset by serious health problems."
The JFK portrait is located in the West Gallery 210 as part of the section titled "America's Presidents."
*The National Portrait Gallery presented its first exhibit "Nucleus for a National Collection" in the Arts & Industries Building in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Its director is Kim Sajet.
**William Franklin Draper (1912-2003) was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard & the National Academy of Design in New York. During WWII, WFD painted combat portraits in the Aleutians and South Pacific.
After WWII, WFD set up a portrait studio on Park Avenue in New York City. In 1999, he received the Portrait Society of America's gold medal.
"The Portraits: John F. Kennedy," The National Portrait Gallery, www.npg.si.edu/
"William Draper, 90, Painter Who Portrayed Presidents," by Ken Johnson, The New York Times, November 1, 2003, www.nytimes.com/
"William Draper," They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of World War II www.pbs.org/