The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC is paying tribute to First Lady Nancy Reagan, who died March 6th at the age of 94. A painting on paper of Mrs. Reagan in a cherry-red dress by portraitist Aaron Shikler has been installed in the museum’s In Memoriam space on the first floor.
Shikler’s painting was made for Time Magazine, a cover design that appeared on newsstands in January 1985, just before President Reagan’s second inauguration.
Born in Brooklyn, Shikler, who studied painting with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffman, made a living after art school painting clowns and ballerinas for a wholesale company, commercial artworks that he signed with the pseudonym “Phil I. Steen.” His career took a turn for the better when one of his portrait commissions caught the eye of Jackie Kennedy. She hired Shikler to make her official White House portrait, and so did Nancy Reagan. Those canvases now hang in the White House’s Vermeil Room. Shikler died this past November at the age of 93.
Nancy Reagan is on view through March 28, 2016, The National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC, 202-633-8300, www.npg.si.edu
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