Historical Highlights

The Portrait of Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas

August 16, 1941
The Portrait of Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
With nearly 50 years of service in the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn of Texas served 17 years as Speaker of the House.
On this date, Speaker Sam Rayburn’s portrait by British artist Douglas Chandor was accepted by the House of Representatives. The longest-serving Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn of Texas unconventionally had his portrait painted during the second of his 10 terms as Speaker. Rayburn first entered the House in 1913. He chaired the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee in the 1930s, and held the Speakership for all but two terms, between 1940 and his death in 1961. His House career was marked by significant work on New Deal legislation, including the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, and by his strong support of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman during World War II. Artist Chandor also painted Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and many British dignitaries. During Rayburn’s sittings with the artist—which took place in the early morning before the Speaker arrived at the Capitol and late in the evening after the House adjourned—three portraits were made. In addition to the official Speaker portrait, one was completed for East Texas Teacher’s College, which Rayburn attended, and for the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Before his retirement, Rayburn hung the portrait in his private Capitol office, also known as the “Board of Education.” After his death in 1961, the portrait was moved to the Speaker’s Lobby located outside of the House Chamber.

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