The Portrait Collection
Sec. John Sherman
George P.A. Healy
Oil on canvas
65 x 55.5 x 5"
Biographies and Portraits of Treasury Secretaries
The Secretary of the Treasury portraits were first acquired by the Treasury Department in the 1870's. Treasury Secretary John Sherman (1877-1881) standardized the size and format of the portraits at three-quarter length and life size, stipulating that the paintings, "...will be obtained from competent artists for $500." This was a significant commission at the time, and allowed for Treasury to acquire works from prominent and professionally trained artists. They included such eminent portrait painters as George Healy, Eastman Johnson, Philipp de Laszlo, Theobald Chartran and Pilides Costa.
While the present Treasury Secretary portraits are painted from life, many of the earlier portraits were copied from pre-existing portraits and later, photographs. The majority of these copies were made during the late 19th century when the Treasury Department systematically acquired a likeness of every former Secretary, establishing a complete representation for this high-ranking Cabinet office. The Secretary portraits are displayed throughout the Treasury Building's third floor corridors.