Truth In Satire

12 Noted Artists Refuse To Paint Donald Trump’s Official Presidential Portrait

An oil portrait of the president that Julie Cromarty did for the Library of Congress. Ms. Cromarty called the president “more fidgety than a dog with fleas.” (Credit: C-SPAN and Chas Fagan)

Twelve of the nation’s most revered portrait artists — including the woman who painted both Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush — have refused the White House’s invitation to capture Mr. Trump on canvas.

Each said off the record that they found the President Trump too loathsome to spend lengthy amount of times in the same room with him, but they gave varying excuses for declining the offer in letters of response to the White House.

“While it’s an honor to be considered once again as the painter for a presidential portrait, I must decline as I plan to be out of the country for the next 4–8 years,” wrote Liza McHenry, the painter of the Obama and Bush portraits.

“I deeply regret that I can’t be the artist who captures President Trump for posterity,” said Kyle Lambert, a Dallas-area portraitist. “I simply don’t have the skill to recreate that unusual orange skin shade necessary to give the president the realistic hue he deserves.”

Julie Cromarty, a renowned Pennsylvania painter, who was commissioned by the Library of Congress to paint the likeness above of Mr. Trump for its “U.S. Presidents Collection,” was asked to do a more embellished version for the White House, but turned down the offer.

During a studio interview after completing the Library of Congress portrait, the artist spoke about the challenges of painting Donald Trump. “The man is the most fidgety subject I’ve ever tried to paint. I’ve had 3-year-olds sitting for me who had more patience, self-control, and maturity than Trump.

“At one point, he started playing with his cowlick and my hair person needed an hour to get it back in place. Another time, when I begged him to sit still, he actually urinated in his suit pants, then blamed me, ‘You artsy-fartsy bitch,’ he yelled, ‘how can you expect me to sit for four minutes straight without moving!? Now look at what you made me do.’ Honestly, no goddamn way would I ever be in the same room with that juvenile man-boy again. I’d have better luck getting Speedy Gonzalez to hold still.”

Gregory Buchman, a veteran artist who painted Ronald Reagan’s White House portrait, was the last of the dozen well-known portraitists invited to create a distinguished and enduring image of President Trump. His letter of response was perhaps the most memorable:

Dear Sirs and Madams,

It is with no regret at all that I turn down your offer to paint Donald Trump to look formidable, respectable, and credible on the walls of the White House for future generations.

It is not possible for me, or any other artist with integrity, to paint this con man, buffoon, and utter imposter in a way that would appear intelligent, wise, magnanimous, erudite, courageous, stable, responsible, principled, or leaderly.

He is none of those things.

I will not dishonor my fellow artists, bamboozle the American public, or deceive history by painting him to look as if he ever had the qualities to be the President of the United States, even if I could.

As an alternative, I might suggest you locate one of those $5 caricature artists on the sidewalks of New York and get them to do a clownish likeness of this presidential pretender, our astoundingly comical, albeit horribly dangerous, commander in chief.

Yours respectfully,
Gregory Buchman


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