Washington, DC: Penn Quarter — portraits of the presidents

The portrait of the 44th attracts the biggest crowds. Indeed, it is not typical, it is not boring. Fairly modern, against a background of green and yellowish leaves. So there are railings and a short queue here. This completely contrasts with the classic portrait of the 43rd. But probably no wonder, the conservative president has also a conservative portrait, despite the fact that in retirement he aspires to be a painter. The 42nd is like it is reflected in a mirror composed of small pieces, creates a popular, almost pop, though somewhat artificial impression. Then it’s getting boring, serious 41st in the Cabinet, smiling 40th in the colonnade, ordinary 39th and 38th. On the thoughtful face of the 37th, his scandal is not visible (I wonder if such were the guidelines for his portrait). The view of the Capitoline Hill behind the 36th is almost artificial. So I stop only before the smudged and messy 35th. One can find in this portrait this sudden elusiveness of time, suddenly terminated term and life. After that, not much happens. Portraits do not catch the eye, I often have to look at the signature to find out if I ever heard of such a president. There are those who have gone to the past in glory, and those whose history judges the worst. Everyone hangs here up to the first.

Fortunately, there is no 45th here yet. His presence, outside the National Portrait Gallery, but still at Penn Quarter marks the absurd sign of the Trump Hotel at the distinctive neo-Gothic old post office. Most of the other buildings overwhelm it all with a heavy neoclassicism. On one of them, National Archives, the inscription reads: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. “Where law ends tyranny begins,” answers the Department of Justice.

(July 2018)