history All the Presidential Portraits, Ranked  

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List Rules Vote based on the quality of the portrait only - political beliefs and presidential legacies don't matter on this list.

You may not realize it, but there are official portraits of every US president. This tradition started with George Washington and has continued into modern times, even with the advent of photography. These official paintings of US presidents have not always been the most attractive or dynamic images you will ever see, but all of the US president portraits were commissioned from the best artists of their day and provide a unique insight into each leader.

When you look through this list of portraits of American presidents, some trends become immediately obvious. In the early paintings, with the ironic exception of Washington himself, the presidents are often painted from the bust up in the classic European portrait style. As the years have gone on, however, all the US president portraits have developed and turned more into works of art than straight depictions.

The best US presidential portraits capture the president as you remember them. Some are iconic, like John F. Kennedy's portrait, while others are seriously weird (is that really what Andrew Jackson looked like? Yikes.) Take a look through this official US president portraits gallery and vote on your favorites.

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John F. Kennedy


John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list All the Presidential Portraits, Ranked
Photo: Aaron Shikler/The White House

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), also referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, John Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Major events during his presidency include the Bay of Pigs Invasion, ...more

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Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States of America

Presidency: 35

V.P.: Lyndon B. Johnson

Profession: Politician, Military Officer, Author, Writer

Also Ranked

#43 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#5 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

#12 on The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

#42 on The Most Influential People of All Time

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Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list All the Presidential Portraits, Ranked
Photo: George P.A. Healy/The White House

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, ...more

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Birthplace: Hodgenville, Kentucky, United States of America

Presidency: 16

V.P.: Andrew Johnson, Hannibal Hamlin

Profession: Statesman, Politician, Lawyer

Also Ranked

#71 on The Greatest American Writers of All Time

#30 on The All-Time Greatest People in History

#34 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#11 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

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Theodore Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list All the Presidential Portraits, Ranked
Photo: John Singer Sargent/The White House

Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt Jr. was an American politician, author, naturalist, soldier, explorer, and historian who served as the 26th President of the United States. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the Progressive Party insurgency of 1912. He is known for his exuberant ...more

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Birthplace: New York City, Manhattan, Area code 917, Contiguous United States, New York, + more

Presidency: 26

V.P.: Charles W. Fairbanks

Profession: Statesman, Politician, Police officer, Historian, Polymath, + more

Also Ranked

#12 on The Most Important Military Leaders In US History

#46 on The All-Time Greatest People in History

#5 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#17 on The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

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George Washington


George Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list All the Presidential Portraits, Ranked
Photo: Gilbert Stuart/The White House

George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution, which replaced the ...more

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Birthplace: Contiguous United States, United States of America, United States, with Territories, Westmoreland County, + more

Presidency: 1

V.P.: John Adams

Profession: Surveyor, Politician, Soldier, Military Officer, Farmer, + more

Also Ranked

#1 on The Most Important Military Leaders In US History

#4 on The All-Time Greatest People in History

#3 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#14 on The Most Important Military Leaders in World History

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