Known for creating this one painting, W. G. Williams may have been a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. He painted his portrait of Dwight David and Mami Dowd Eisenhower [President and Mrs. Eisenhower 1989.78.1] several years after Eisenhower’s election to the presidency in 1952. Although the artist was attentive to such personal details as the small hat and pearl earrings often worn by Mrs. Eisenhower, his choice of a religious setting for the couple seems curious. Neither President nor Mrs. Eisenhower was known to be especially religious. When the first couple joined the Presbyterian Church shortly after the inauguration in 1953, the church’s pastor, against the President’s expressed wishes, widely publicized the news. Williams may have been inspired by stories in the national press that mentioned the event. He surrounded his painting of the couple with collages of the Good Shepherd, the Holy Family, and Old Testament figures, suggesting a spiritual side of the peacetime president rather than his well-known military achievements.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)
Little is known about the artist W. G. Williams, except that he may have been a member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. (Lynda Hartigan, Made with Passion, 1990)