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Three-Way Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Unidentified Native American (William Mackintosh?)

early 19th century Unidentified oil on wood and canvas strips 34 x 29 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (86.3 x 74.3 x 4.5 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. James E. D. Graham and Mr. Thomas E. Dashiell 1967.90.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 14B

Luce Center Label

An unknown artist combined three portraits to form this "slat" or three-way painting. He painted images of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and James Monroe (1758-1831) back-to-back, divided the canvas into thirty-six strips, and then placed the pieces vertically across a third painting. The three portraits reveal themselves one after the other as the viewer changes position. The identity of the man in the third painting is unclear, but he may be the Coweta chief William Mackintosh (1785-1825), who was actively involved in issues of Native American land ownership during Monroe's presidency. By placing Mackintosh at the center of the work, the artist suggested he was on equal footing with the two presidents, despite being a generation younger. (O'Malley, "The History and Conservation of an Early 19th-Century Slat Painting," presented at the WAAC annual meeting, 1992)


Ethnic - Indian

Portrait male - Jefferson, Thomas - bust

Portrait male - Monroe, James - bust

Portrait male - unidentified - bust


folk art

paint - oil

fabric - canvas