December 16, 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, earlier today announced the painting that will be on display during the Inaugural Luncheon. He has selected George Caleb Bingham’s “Verdict of the People,” an oil painting from the American art gallery at the Saint Louis Museum of Art.
After the newly-elected President has taken the oath of office and delivered the inaugural address, Chairman Blunt and the JCCIC host a traditional inaugural luncheon in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Since 1953, the JCCIC has organized a luncheon celebration for the President, Vice President and their spouses, Senate and House leaders, the JCCIC members, and other invited guests. As chairman, Blunt selects a work of art to be displayed during the luncheon.
“Verdict of the People” (1854-55) is one of three works by the Missouri artist that comprise the Election Series, presenting the course of democratic elections from public debate between candidates, to the voting process, to the announcement of election. Bingham wanted to visually record the cultural tensions at play in American democracy in the 1850s.
After Election Day, it often took days to compile the votes. The results were publicly announced at the courthouse, and crowds gathered to hear the “Verdict of the People.” This painting depicts a chaotic street scene just as a clerk calls out the election results. Bingham’s electorate is one of inclusiveness. Everyone is here – the well-to-do farmers, laborers, merchants, westerners, kids, politicians, immigrants, veterans, women, and African-Americans. They are elated, dejected, confounded, argumentative, jovial, and intensely serious.
The painting will be on display in National Statuary Hall on January 20, 2017, then returned to the Saint Louis Art Museum.