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with frame: Portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt

object: 4022

Portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt

Oil painting
Artist: Gari Melchers (1860-1932)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W (overall): 214.4 x 112.5 cm (84 7/16 x 44 5/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
In 1904, Charles Lang Freer offered the United States his collections of Asian and American art and funds for a museum to house them. Because of restrictions he placed on the gift, the Smithsonian Institution hesitated to accept it until President Theodore Roosevelt intervened. As a sign of his appreciation, Freer commissioned Gari Melchers, a native of Detroit, to paint this portrait of the president. Melchers was afraid his subject would not find time to pose as long as needed for the masterpiece that Freer had in mind, and confided to his wife, "This painting the President is rather anxious business." But when the work was finished, it was instantly declared a great success. Roosevelt himself considered the portrait the best that had ever been done, and Freer predicted that it would always be regarded as the one that truly captured the "dignity, force and character" of the man. "Art is a language," he wrote to Melchers, "and your portrait will talk to the people through coming centuries."

From 1908 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Gari Melchers on March 19, 1908 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See List, American Paintings Other than by Whistler, A, pg. 2, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Former owner
Gari Melchers (C.L. Freer source) (1860-1932)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
portrait, president, United States
Collection(s) Area
American Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.