Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Albert Ketcham Murray (American, 1906-1992)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 30 in x 24 1/2 in; 76.2 cm x 62.23 cm
This portrait of Christian A. Herter was painted from life and from photographic study in 1960.
Signed "Albert Murray 1960"
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


Christian Archibald Herter (1895–1966) was born in Paris, France, to American parents, who later returned to New York. He graduated from Harvard University and studied architecture at Columbia before joining the diplomatic corps and attending the Paris Peace Conference following World War I. From 1919 to 1924, he was the personal assistant to Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. Herter served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1931 to 1943 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1943 to 1953, where his proposals for economic aid to war-torn Europe were an impetus for the Marshall Plan. Herter was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1953. When his two terms ended he returned to the Department of State as the under secretary. Upon John Foster Dulles’s resignation, Herter became secretary of state.

As under secretary and then secretary, Herter helped oversee U.S. diplomacy during continuing Cold War crises—in Lebanon, where a Soviet-inspired coup overturned the pro-Western government, and in Taiwan, an island off the coast of China with a pro-Western, democratic government although the Chinese communist government still claimed the island. A proposed summit meeting with the Soviet Union was canceled when the Soviets shot down a U-2 U.S. spy plane and captured the pilot.

Herter’s role in the international arena did not end with the Eisenhower administration. He also served on councils and commissions in both the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations and was a special representative for trade negotiations.