President and Mrs. Eisenhower, May 12, 1955
Oil on canvas and embossed paper with fabric and paper collage and plastic pearls
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
In church this morning, we experienced three different versions of the 23rd Psalm, so I thought I'd try to rustle up a 23rd Psalm-related work of art today. The National Gallery had a couple nice woodcuts, but the images were too small for my tastes, even at what they call full-screen size. (Maybe if your resolution is set to 640x480 they would take up most of the screen, but on my 1440x900 display they look pretty darn wee.) I turned to the Smithsonian American Art Museum next, and used their startlingly bad keyword search feature to look for works with "shepherd" as a keyword. Why is it startlingly bad? SAAM assigns a comprehensive set of keywords to the works in their online collection, including, for example, "Religion - New Testament - Good Shepherd." But if you try to search for one of the keywords they themselves created, you'll end up with zero results, because in the keyword field you can only search on one word at a time. Searching on "shepherd" returned 35 records, all but a couple of which were not really relevant to my search. What makes it startling is that the SAAM website is pretty good, and their online collection otherwise very impressive, so it's weird their keyword search is so crummy.
Anyway, one of the results when I searched on "shepherd" was this portrait of President Eisenhower, which was so seemingly random that I had to take a closer look. It seems the artist, hoping to inspire Ike to look to the Bible for guidance, had included a number of religious images in the margins of the painting, and a small portrait of the Good Shepherd right above President Eisenhower's left shoulder. Go figure.