Known in his day as the “Abraham Lincoln of American art” for his rugged ideals and candid and forceful realism, Nicholas Brewer painted numerous Washington, D.C., notables, including President Theodore Roosevelt, and many governors.  For a time he maintained a studio in the Senate Office Building (now the Russell Senate Office Building). His portrait of Joseph T. Robinson was completed in 1934, shortly after the senator’s selection as majority leader. Following Robinson’s death in 1937, the remaining senator from Arkansas, Hattie Caraway, introduced a resolution to authorize acceptance of a gift of the Robinson portrait. The painting, which had been hanging in the office of the secretary of the Senate, was presented to the Senate by Robinson’s widow and friends several months later.
Born on the frontier of Minnesota, Nicholas Brewer later moved to New York City to study art. He exhibited widely, and won numerous awards during a long and illustrious career as a portraitist and landscape artist. Brewer was a strong advocate for the creation of a national art museum to encourage American painters. However, he consistently criticized abstract portrait art, explaining that a portrait must be “an actual transcript of a man’s face” in order to reflect his true character.  Brewer is also known for his portraits of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland, and Vice President John Nance Garner.
1. ”Seventy-Seven-Year-Old Artist Finds President Jumpy,” Washington Post, 7 May 1935.