President Trump’s latest addition to White House decor is a kitschy fantasy painting that shows him relaxing with Republican presidents of the past—an update to a best-selling image commonly found in tourist gift shops and online galleries.
The print, “The Republican Club” by Andy Thomas, could be seen in the background of a photo tweeted by 60 Minutes, which aired an interview with Trump on Sunday night.
It shows a slimmed-down Trump sandwiched between Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, directly across from Abraham Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes are also in the imaginary scene.
Amateur art critics sneered on social media that the artwork was “tacky,” “a travesty,” or “blasphemy.” Some said it looked like the political version of the famous “dogs playing poker” painting.
But one person was thrilled to learn that it was hanging on the wall of Trump’s office—the artist himself.
Thomas told The Daily Beast that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a fan of the artist’s work, gave the print to Trump.
“He had actually given a me real gracious call to tell me how much he liked it,” Thomas said of Trump. “He was very complimentary. He made a comment that he’d seen a lot of paintings of himself and he rarely liked them.”
The painting is the latest in a well-known series by Thomas that depicts past presidents from each party hanging out together. Thomas’ first, which was finished in 2008, included Republicans—minus Trump—playing poker. A subsequent portrait showed Democratic presidents playing pool.
When Thomas decided to add the current president, he said, he found “Trump hard to paint” because of his skin tone and smile, but made him the center of attention anyway.
He said that as far as he knows, no other president has his artwork. He said Issa has both the Democratic and Republican prints hanging in his office and commissioned a portrait of himself from Thomas, who also paints cowboys.
“He’s a really friendly guy and he said, ‘If I get a chance, I’m going to show this to Donald,’” Thomas said.
Still he never expected Trump would call to thank him and was shocked when his wife told him he should be home at a certain time for a call.
“You can’t imagine how happy that made me,” he said.
Thomas stressed that while the painting with Trump is getting the most attention, his presidential art is bipartisan. And he said he didn’t want to discuss his own political views.
“I challenge people to look at the paintings and see if they can figure it out,” he said.
In an effort to make the West Wing less of what he described as a “dump,” last year Trump redecorated the Oval Office with gold drapes and gold-hued upholstery.
And to ensure no one forgets about his electoral accomplishments, a map of results of his 2016 victory is hanging in the West Wing.