Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Stephen Arnold Douglas Volk (American, 1859-1935)
United States: New York: New York City
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 45 in x 37 in; 114.3 cm x 93.98 cm
This portrait of Bainbridge Colby, which was painted from life in New York City in 1922-1923, was purchased by the Department of State from Mr. Colby on May 19, 1923.
Signed "Douglas Volk"
Credit Line
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number


Bainbridge Colby (1869–1950) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a prominent New York family. He graduated from Williams College before studying law at Columbia University and New York Law School. A successful lawyer, he served in the New York State Assembly and in various positions during the Woodrow Wilson administration, including secretary of state, appointed in 1920.

Despite Colby’s efforts, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty ending World War I on account of its clause regarding membership in the League of Nations, the international organization Wilson had created for maintaining world peace. Colby denounced the communist regime in the new Soviet Union, successor to the Russian Empire following the Revolution of 1917, and he described the threat international communism posed to existing governments. In Latin America, he promoted goodwill, touring on behalf of the president to promote hemispheric cooperation. He also worked to restore diplomatic relations with the Mexican government following the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and a decade of political instability and military revolts. 

Colby left office at the end of the Wilson administration in 1921 and returned to private practice.