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Trent Lott


TitleTrent Lott
Artist/MakerSteven Polson
Date2009
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions h. 48.5 x  w. 36.25 in. ( h. 123.19 x  w. 92.075 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number32.00062.000


  • Object Description
  • The congressional career of Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi spanned thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007. After eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lott won the first of his four Senate terms in 1988. When Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole resigned his Senate seat in 1996, Senate Republicans elected Lott as majority leader, a post he held until 2003.

    Senator Lott chose the Senate chamber as the setting for his portrait, rather than his personal office or the Republican Leader's suite. Lott also specified that the chamber's blue damask panels with the Greek key border appear in the background. These panels were installed as part of the refurbishment of the chamber completed during Senator Lott's tenure as majority leader. Standing at his Senate Chamber desk, Lott's left hand rests on a Congressional Record. To accurately represent the furnishings of the chamber, artist Steven Polson studied samples of the fabric covering the wall panels, the brown leather on the chairs, and the paint color of the chamber walls. Polson also included small but telling details, such as Lott's Senate lapel pin, gold wedding band, and class ring from alma mater "Ole Miss."

    Polson began his formal study in art at age 16 when he attended The Art Students' League in New York. He earned a fine arts degree in 1984 from The Cooper Union for the Advancement for Sciences and Art. His work includes the official portraits of Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell for the State Department, Donald Rumsfeld for the Department of Defense, and numerous other figures in government, industry, and academia.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
  • Signature (Recto, top right): Steven Polson
  • Sitter(s)
  • Lott, Trent

    Mississippi’s Trent Lott came to Capitol Hill in 1968 to work as an administrative assistant for Representative William Colmer. When Colmer retired in 1972, Lott succeeded him and served eight terms in the House, including eight years as Republican Whip. Elected to the Senate in 1988, Lott became the Senate Republican Whip in 1993, the only person to hold this position in both houses of Congress. Known for his organizational skills and member-to-member negotiations, Lott is credited with modernizing the whip office, creating a model still in operation today. Senate Republicans chose him as floor leader in 1996 and he served five years as majority leader. Throughout his career, Lott actively forged bipartisan coalitions—with Democrats on the Hill and in the White House—and guided the Senate through the impeachment trial of President William Clinton in 1999 and the response to terrorist attacks in 2001.