Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Robert Brackman (Russian, American, 1898-1980)
United States: District of Columbia: Washington
North American; Russian
oil on canvas
Overall: 54 in x 44 in; 137.16 cm x 111.76 cm
This portrait of John Foster Dulles, which was painted from life in Washington, was done under contract between the Department and Mr. Brackman dated June 23, 1954, and was paid for on March 2, 1955.
Signed "Brackman". An inscription on the back of the canvas reads: "Portrait of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State. Painted in Washington, D.C., by Robert Brackman, N.A., 1954."
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


John Foster Dulles (1888–1959) was born in Washington, D.C., to a family of diplomats. His grandfather, John Watson Foster, and uncle, Robert Lansing, had both served as distinguished secretaries of state. He graduated from Princeton University and George Washington University Law School. His practice, in New York, focused on international law, and he worked in government agencies, in Paris for the Peace Conference following World War I, and during World War II as a lawyer on the War Trade Board. He served briefly in the U.S. Senate. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him secretary of state in 1953. 

As secretary, Dulles worked to contain the spread of Soviet communism. The Korean War ended in a truce but not a treaty. Meanwhile, tensions in Indochina were on the rise, particularly after French control was defeated and Vietnam was partitioned into a communist North and a democratic South as Korea had been. Increasingly, regions formerly colonized by European nations became flashpoints for tensions between the democratic West, led by the United States, and the communist East, led by the Soviet Union. Cold War foreign policy often involved trying to suppress regional conflicts lest they ignite a world war. In his work Dulles had the close cooperation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was run by his brother, Allen Dulles. He was the first secretary of state to be directly accessible to the media, holding the first Department of State press conferences. He resigned just weeks before his death.