Tuesday, January 20

'View from the Yosemite Valley' by Thomas Hill 1885


I was unaware of this tradition, but since 1985 at Ronald Reagan's inauguration, a painting is chosen to hang behind the incoming president at the inauguration lunch. The selected painting is chosen to reflect the theme of the event; this years theme is "A New Birth of Freedom", a reference to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This can certainly be seen as an effort to link Obama's presidency to Lincolns presidency. The painting chosen for Barack Obama's inauguration lunch is 'View from the Yosemite Valley' by Thomas Hill 1885. It was chosen because of the connection of the scene with Lincoln's signing of the 1864 Yosemite Grant, which set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias as a public reserve. Thomas Hill, a member of the Hudson River School, benefited greatly from this grant and often visited the Yosemite Valley to practice his plein-air painting. The choice of this painting at the Obama luncheon is meant as a nod to the new era of exploration, begun by Abraham Lincoln, in order to emphasis the dawn of a new era as represented by Barack Obama. To see painitings chosen from previous inaugural luncheons just follow this link to the senate website. Woohoo Obama!!!

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