Without ceremony, this oil likeness of J. Hamilton Lewis by Louis Betts was hung in the U.S. Capitol in November 1940. A formal unveiling was postponed until the Illinois delegation could be present following the fall congressional recess. The portrait was presented by the senator’s widow to the Joint Committee on the Library shortly before it was exhibited in the Senate wing of the Capitol.
The precise date and circumstances of the picture’s execution are not known. Betts was, however, a skilled copyist who spent a number of years studying and working in the mode of Europeans Frans Hals and Diego Velasquez. Betts may have copied a photograph of Lewis that was published in 1940, the year after his death, for the portrait closely resembles this image.
A successful portraitist, Betts grew up in Chicago and was especially identified with that city, though he achieved recognition in capitals both here and abroad. As a student, he trained under his father, Edwin D. Betts, and later with William Merritt Chase at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. A 1923 art journal observed: “[Betts] employs no accessories to heighten his effects. . . . He has only one aim . . . to set down on canvas for all time what manner of man or woman or child is before him as he or she is revealed to him by the spirit which gleams from the eyes.” 
Betts maintained a studio in New York City. He was awarded a bronze medal at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 and numerous other prizes in succeeding years. The National Academy of Design presented him with a gold medal in 1931.
1. William B. M’Cormick, “Louis Betts: Portraitist,” International Studio 77, no. 316 (September 1923): 524-25.