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Franco and Eisenhower Paint Portraits and Landscapes

Since he left office, most people have heard about George W. Bush and his attempt at painting. He held his own exhibit at his presidential library called The Art of Leadership, where he showed several original portraits of world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Dalai Lama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his own father, former President George H.W. Bush. However, painting is actually a pretty popular hobby among world leaders and important politicians. For instance, three original paintings by former President Jimmy Carter recently sold at a charity auction by the Carter Center in June 2014.

Now, I’ve written about celebrities showing their artwork before, like David Bowie having his own exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. But I never realized how many well-known political figures and world leaders were so into art. Apparently Prince Charles is quite good at watercolor landscapes. But I can’t really blame him. With hundreds of millions of dollars at your disposal, the ability to travel anywhere you want, and the fact that your mother is the Queen of England and many other places, becoming a good painter is not out of the ordinary. On his official website, Charlie shows off his abilities with his landscapes of Scotland, Greece and Morocco.

I don’t know what it is about people who are considered ‘evil’ or ‘villainous’, but they always seem to have classy hobbies like painting. This happens a lot in film and fiction. Lots of villains like the Joker or Hannibal Lecter or Hans Gruber and all the others tend to listen to Beethoven and admire fine art. But that cliché wasn’t just pulled from thin air. Just look at this:

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It’s not a painting commemorating William Faulkner’s The Bear, nor is it an example of Nineteenth Century dog portraiture. It’s an original painting by Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain for thirty-six years. He was known for the murder of his political opponents, the suppression on women, and extremely xenophobic policies regarding language and culture. According to Franco’s grandson, the Spanish dictator would often shut himself up in his chambers for hours, resulting in these oftentimes violent scenes, whether it be a bear tearing apart a score of dogs, an owl standing triumphantly over a freshly killed rabbit, or an eagle carrying off small pheasants.

Sticking with the whole dictator theme, it won’t hurt to mention something that’s turing into common knowledge these days. Hitler liked to paint. He applied and was rejected on two separate occasions by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. And it’s not surprising that there’s a market for his artwork. Bids for one of Hitler’s watercolors will begin at the Weidler Auction House in Nuremberg in late November of this year. I don’t condone Hitler in any way, shape or form, but I must say… he was pretty good. His watercolor paintings of German architecture are well known, but what I find fascinating is his interest in Disney.



These drawings of Pinocchio and two of the Seven Dwarves were done by Adolf Hitler. He also said that Snow White is one of the greatest movies ever, and Joseph Goebbels gave his a set of Mickey Mouse collectables as gifts. So when your sitting in history class learning of the atrocities of the Second World War, or just happen to be watching the History Channel as they roll footage of the Eastern Front Campaign, just picture Hitler in Mickey Mouse ears.

About Nathan Scheer

Nathan Scheer is contributor to The Artoholic and a webmaster for TheArtExperts.org, who is currently studying History and International Studies at Elon University in North Carolina. He has also worked for Rehs Galleries, Inc. and Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., which specialize in 19th and 20th Century European paintings and contemporary academic paintings, respectively, as well as Christie's Rockefeller Center.


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