Two portraits owned by the Andrew Jackson Foundation traveled to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recently and are on display in an exhibit that showcases more than 60 portraits of first ladies.
The exhibit opened Nov. 13 and is called “Every Eye is upon Me: First Ladies of the United States.” On loan to the gallery from the Andrew Jackson Foundation are the 1827 portrait of Rachel Jackson, wife of president Andrew Jackson, and the 1830 portrait of Emily Donelson. She acted as hostess during Jackson’s presidency after Rachel Jackson’s death in 1828. Ralph E.W. Earl, known to be Andrew Jackson’s favorite portrait artist, painted both portraits.
The exhibit is the first of its kind to explore the prominent position of first lady through portraiture. According to Smithsonian officials, it will span 250 years, starting with Martha Washington, all the way to Melania Trump. There will be more than 60 portraits flanked by their iconic dresses and memorabilia. It’s part of the museum’s American Woman’s History Initiative.
“The Andrew Jackson Foundation is proud to play a part in this important exhibition that highlights a role that often gets overlooked,” said Marsha Mullin, vice president of collections and research and chief curator for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. “Our first ladies serve alongside the president in leading the nation and have made major contributions to our country throughout our history. This exhibition will draw to light the greatest accomplishments of these women, as well as focus on the myriad of challenges they faced during the historical moments in which they lived.”
The exhibit will run through May 23.