Artist Reveals Bill Clinton's Official White House Portrait Has Monica Lewinsky Reference

Posted: Mar 02, 2015 1:20 PM

While the internet broke this past weekend over a debate regarding the color of a dress (#TeamWhiteAndGold), Nelson Shanks, the artist who painted President Bill Clinton's portrait, revealed in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News that the painting contains an Easter egg reference to another infamous blue dress: the one worn by Monica Lewinsky. The portrait currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.


If you look at the left-hand side of it there's a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.

While the artist claims that the Clintons have tried to remove the portrait, the National Portrait Gallery disputes this claim.

While this seems like a bit of a low blow, artists inserting their beliefs into their work isn't exactly a new concept. Shanks has a point—the Lewinsky scandal definitely cast a shadow over Clinton's presidency, and one could argue that the perception of the office of the president was changed drastically by the whole affair. My first memory of anything political was asking my mother about why everyone was mad at this Monica Lewinsky woman. Given that I was six years old at the time their "relationship" became public, there was no way my mother could explain the scandal to me without any sort of permanent emotional scarring and/or complete loss of childhood innocence. Clinton was the president I grew up with, and he wasn't exactly the leadership role model the president should be.