Painting by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

[LBJ Library photo by Ruth Goerger]

Did you know that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a painter?  This week's artifact (1983.48.1) is a painting of a mountain scene done by Eisenhower in 1958 – while he was still the President of the United States. He never had ambitions to sell his paintings, preferring to give them to friends as gifts instead.

The painting, entitled "Landscape in Switzerland," was a gift from President Eisenhower to Major General and Mrs. Everett S. Hughes, long-time friends of the Eisenhowers. In 1980, the painting was inherited by Mrs. Hughes' niece, Frances Henson. Ms. Henson sold to the painting to Campbell/Neumann Antiques in Austin, Texas, who sold the painting to LBJ Foundation in September 1983. Since then, the painting has been part of the permanent Museum Collections of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. It currently hangs in the office of the library director. 

Lyndon Johnson was committed to making the arts a national priority and did so during his Presidency. Here is an excerpt of his remarks at the Signing of the Arts and Humanities Bill on September 29, 1965:

"We in America have not always been kind to the artists and the scholars who are the creators and the keepers of our vision. Somehow, the scientists always seem to get the penthouse, while the arts and the humanities get the basement.

Last year, for the first time in our history, we passed legislation to start changing that situation. We created the National Council on the Arts.

The talented and the distinguished members of that Council have worked very hard. They have worked creatively. They have dreamed dreams and they have developed ideas.

This new bill, creating the National Foundation for the Arts and the Humanities, gives us the power to turn some of those dreams and ideas into reality.

We would not have that bill but for the hard and the thorough and the dedicated work of some great legislators in both Houses of the Congress. All lovers of art are especially indebted to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New York, to Congressman Frank Thompson of New Jersey, to Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, to Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, to many Members of both the House and Senate who stand with me on this platform today--too many names to mention.

But these men and women have worked long and hard and effectively to give us this bill. And now we have it. Let me tell you what we are going to do with it. Working together with the State and the local governments, and with many private organizations in the arts:

--We will create a National Theater to bring ancient and modern classics of the theater to audiences all over America.

--We will support a National Opera Company and a National Ballet Company.

--We will create an American Film Institute, bringing together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators, and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th century art form as their life's work.

--We will commission new works of music by American composers.

--We will support our symphony orchestras.

--We will bring more great artists to our schools and universities by creating grants for their time in residence.

Well, those are only a small part of the programs that we are ready to begin. They will have an unprecedented effect on the arts and the humanities of our great Nation.

But these actions, and others soon to follow, cannot alone achieve our goals. To produce true and lasting results, our States and our municipalities, our schools and our great private foundations, must join forces with us.

It is in the neighborhoods of each community that a nation's art is born. In countless American towns there live thousands of obscure and unknown talents.

What this bill really does is to bring active support to this great national asset, to make fresher the winds of art in this great land of ours.

The arts and the humanities belong to the people, for it is, after all, the people who create them."

View All Artifacts of the Week

Then & Now

Did You Know…

Signing of the Arts and Humanities BillOctober is National Arts and Humanities Month. President Johnson signed the Arts and Humanities Bill on September 9, 1965. He is pictured here in the Rose Garden presenting dancer and choreographer Agnes DeMille with a bill-signing pen. [LBJ Library photo by Unknown. #620-3]

Topic Talk