web analytics

George Bush’s favourite painting

Written By: - Date published: 7:17 am, February 2nd, 2008 - 2 comments
Categories: articles - Tags:

koerner372.jpg

What does President Bush’s favourite painting say about him? The Guardian trys to find out.

Bush claims that the artwork, which hangs in his office, is a “beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us.”

It turns out that the painting was first used in the Saturday Evening Post in 1916 to illustrate a story about a horse thief, and captioned as a picture of his flight from the law.

Four experts weigh in with their opinions.

(Via BoingBoing)

2 comments on “George Bush’s favourite painting ”

  1. AncientGeek 1

    The irony of this is delicious. Particularly the layering of stories. Starts as a gung-ho celebration of thieving. Morphs into a methodist morality tale, and then winds up on the wall of pres who does both.

    For the benefit of the people who don’t read links…

    He urged them to absorb the moral lesson of this “beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us,” he said.

    Sounds typical of the Bush White House. Doing something with a high motivation, but based on something a bit more ugly.

  2. lemsip 2

    “Bush takes special pride in pointing out two paintings he has hung that highlight his motives and legacy. He consciously placed these pictures in the Oval Office at the beginning of his tenure to serve as prescient cultural markers. “The Texas paintings are on the wall because that’s where I’m from and where I’m going,” he says.

    One of them, by little-known painter and illustrator William Henry Dethlef Koerner, titled “A Charge to Keep,” depicts a hatless cowboy followed by two other riders galloping up a hill. Their faces are intent as they pursue some quarry in the distance that cannot be seen by others. Or are they being chased? “I love it,” Bush said, further explaining his intimate feeling for the painting to reporters and editors of the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper. He offered his interpretation: “He’s a determined horseman, a very difficult trail. And you know at least two people are following him, and maybe a thousand.” Bush added that the painting is “based” on an old hymn. “And the hymn talks about serving the Almighty. So it speaks to me personally.” When he was governor of Texas and the painting hung in his office, Bush wrote a note of explanation to his staff: “This is us.”

    W.H.D. Koerner, born in 1878, was a German immigrant who settled with his family in Iowa. After an early stint as a rapid-hand illustrator for the Chicago Tribune before photographs became commonplace in newspapers, he studied at the Howard Pyle School of Art, in Delaware, led by the leading illustrator in the country. Koerner then became a regular illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, a mass magazine that appealed to small-town sentimentality and mythology in an age before the spread of radio. The magazine’s trademark was its hundreds of covers produced by Norman Rockwell, a commercial artist whose ubiquitous work in advertising and his glossy but homey kitsch for the Saturday Evening Post gained him a reputation as one of the definers of everyday Americana.

    The magazine used Koerner especially to provide pictures to accompany short stories about cowboys. In 1912, it gave Koerner the choice assignment of illustrating Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage.” The Koerner painting that now hangs in the Oval Office first appeared as an illustration for a cowboy story called “The Slipper Tongue” in the June 3, 1916, issue. The next year, the magazine reprinted the illustration to accompany another cowboy story, “Ways That Are Dark.” (Both of the writers of these short stories were forgettable figures in the western pulp fiction tradition, originated in the late 19th century by Ned Buntline, inventive publisher of Wild West dime novels and mythologizer of “Buffalo Bill” Cody and “Wild Bill” Hickok, who in the process became the wealthiest author of his time.) Two years after his illustration was first printed, Koerner resold it to Country Gentleman magazine, to go with another western called “A Charge to Keep.” The editors of Country Gentleman didn’t seem to mind that the picture had been used twice before by another publication.

    In 1995, at Bush’s inaugural as governor of Texas, his wife, Laura, selected an 18th century Methodist hymn, written by Charles Wesley, titled “A Charge to Keep.” Its words in part are:

    A charge to keep I have,
    A God to glorify,
    A never-dying soul to save,
    And fit it for the sky.

    To serve the present age,
    My calling to fulfill:
    O may it all my powers engage
    To do my master’s will!

    After the ceremony, one of Bush’s childhood friends, Joseph I. “Spider” O’Neill, managing partner of his family’s oil and investment company, told him that he owned a painting, remarkably enough titled “A Charge to Keep,” and that he would happily lend it to the governor. O’Neill and his wife, who attended Southern Methodist University with Laura, as it happened had also played Cupid in arranging the first date between George and Laura. Presented with the cowboy painting, Bush enthusiastically displayed it at the Governor’s Mansion and now the White House.

    The idea of Bush as a Christian cowboy, dashing upward and onward to fulfill the Lord’s commandments, inspired him to title his campaign autobiography (written by his then communications advisor, Karen Hughes) “A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House.” Sample: “I could not be governor if I did not believe in a divine plan that supersedes all human plans.”

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/04/26/torture_policy/

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Fast-tracked Northland water project will accelerate economic recovery
    The Government has welcomed the decision to approve a new water storage reservoir in Northland, the first of a number of infrastructure projects earmarked for a speedy consenting process that aims to accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.  The Matawii Water Storage Reservoir will provide drinking water for Kaikohe, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago