Where a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Historical Realism
"America's Lion" - (TR) Theodore Roosevelt
Original oil on canvas - 28" x 32"

"Death had to take him sleeping," said Vice President Thomas R. Marshall.
"For if Roosevelt had been awake, there would have been a fight.” 
Archie in a telegram to his brothers still in France with the Army, simply wrote,  “The Lion is Dead.”

A prolific author of over 30 books, he was also a New York legislator, police commissioner and Governor, Dakota rancher, Assistant Secretary to the Navy, Rough Rider, 26th President of the United States, the first American to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the only United States president to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor.

TR was a man that had tremendous energy in all of his endeavors and lived by his principles and had no sympathy for unnecessary compromise.

My painting of his desk tries to show the breadth of the man, yet still focus on that which became the cornerstone of his life… his family.

•    Centered in the painting is the first book he wrote, “The Naval War of 1812” and his last two books. “Fear God and Take Your Own Part” is a collection of his articles for the Metropolitan Magazine and his way of saying that a nation must have the power and will for self-sacrifice as well as the power and will for self-protection and his final book, “Letters to His Children”, a collection of the letters he wrote to his kids during his many adventures away.
•    Just beyond are an assortment of books by TR as well as one of his favorites, part of the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln by Nicolay and Hay. In fact John Hay, former secretary and assistant to Lincoln became TR’s Secretary of State until 1905. Just behind the stack of books is the Lincoln inkwell that TR kept on his desk at Sagamore Hill.
•    The Teddy bear, made by a New York toy maker after an editorial cartoon resides at the Smithsonian and looks out from the back.
•    The first president to have a summer White House, TR’s Western Electric #10 candlestick phone was his link to Washington.
•    The love of his life, childhood sweetheart and mother of 5 of his 6 kids, Edith Carrow’s photo sits where TR could keep her close.
•    Just in front is the Antiquities Act of 1906. With the passage of this Act, TR had the authority to restrict use of public lands by the Government to protect any native artifacts. The Grand Canyon is the most well known of the National Monuments that were saved by this Act.

•    Behind Edith’s photo sits the candlestick from the presidential yacht, “Mayflower”. It held the candle whose wax sealed the 1905 peace treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War. President Roosevelt worked vigorously to bring about a peace treaty and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
•    Giving up his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, TR volunteered for the new 1st United States Calvary, promptly ordered his uniforms from Brooks Brothers and assembled a band of volunteer fighters. The Rough Riders and their tremendous bravery and fighting skills helped bring an end to the Spanish American War that liberated Cuba. TR would be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions at Kettle Hill.
•    A lion from the cover of the original “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” peeks out from under the Rough Rider collar. Many historians believe that Frank Baum wrote the story as an allegory of the political environment of the 1890’s. I also like the connection to Archie’s telegram upon TR’s death.
•    All of the above sit on a 1904 map of Panama. Roosevelt negotiated for the U.S. to take control of the Panama Canal and its construction in 1904; he felt the Canal's completion was his most important and historically significant international achievement.  
•    Part of this negotiation came due to TR’s ability to negotiate from a position of power based on proverb about a “big stick”. The letter to his friend Henry Sprague where he first wrote about this proverb is prominently placed at the front of his desk.
•    Just beyond it is the speech he had in his pocket when a would be assassin shot him just prior to him addressing a large group for the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party in 1912. He went on to give the speech with the bullet lodged in his chest and proclaimed, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”

All of this brings us back to the open book at the center of the painting.

Shortly before he died, Theodore Roosevelt stated to the editor of what would be his last book, LETTERS TO HIS CHILDREN, "I would rather have this book published than anything that has ever been written about me". It shows, through his use of his “picture letters” to his kids, a father, caught up in a bigger than life world, yet never too busy to be their dad. His family, regardless of where he was or whom he was with, was never far from his mind.