The favored painter of powerful politicians like Richard Nixon, Marshall J. Bouldin III (1941–46) died in Memphis at 89.
The favored painter of powerful politicians like Richard Nixon, Marshall J. Bouldin III (1941–46) died in Memphis at 89.
November 25

Painted Politics

On November 15 the New York Times remembered SAIC alumnus Marshall J. Bouldin III (1941–46), a portrait artist whose paintings of important political leaders once lined the walls of the White House and the US Congress. “Having one’s portrait painted by Mr. Bouldin was for many decades considered one of the ultimate perks of power in the South,” says writer Paul Vitello. Bouldin received his first noteworthy commission in 1968 when he was hired to paint Nixon’s daughters, Patricia and June, for $12,000. He quickly became the preferred painter of the political elite, earning upwards of $25,000 per portrait by 1989. His subjects include William Faulkner, Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi, Representative Claude Pepper of Florida, and Speaker of the House Jim Wright. His portrait of astronaut Ronald McNair—a crewmember killed in the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle—is exhibited at the Ronald E. McNair Space Theater in Jackson, Mississippi. “You might say I’m not making anybody happy but one rich man, or two rich men,” Bouldin said in 2005. “But no. The passer-by—the passers-by—they see it, too. So maybe that means something else. And maybe one of my paintings, one day, will end up in a museum.” A retrospective of his work was later held at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Bouldin died on Monday, November 12 at the age of 89.