The Face of a President
Until the late 1820’s, most Americans had never seen pictures of their national leaders. The advent of lithography and photography “gave a face” to the President and other elected officials, and transformed politicians into celebrities.
James K. Polk is an ideal subject for a study on the changing technology of portraiture. Like his political predecessors, he sat for artists whose paintings preserved his image for posterity; however, his career also coincided with the widespread distribution of lithographs and the invention of photography.
The original exhibition “The Face of a President” will feature painted portraits, lithographs, and daguerreotypes of Polk and other political figures as well as the innovative equipment that produced the images. The exhibit is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The exhibit runs June 20, 2014 – January 11, 2015.