University Archives


D.D. Eisenhower, President and Artist, Ex-Forbes

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, Typed Letter Signed, to Harold W. Whicker, September 4, 1951, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. 1 p., 7.125? x 10.375?. On “DDE” letterhead with five stars; with unrelated envelope addressed from Eisenhower to Whicker from the Brown Palace Hotel and postmarked Denver, Colorado, October 12, 1952. Very good.

“Swede Hazlett gave me the privilege of reading your latest letter to him. You have a faculty of leading a person into many unaccustomed channels of thought and contemplation; the contemplation of standards in beauty, in human behavior and conduct, and in human purposes. I find particular delight in reading your paragraphs on painting. While I am myself a dauber in oils, my own purpose is nothing deeper than sheer enjoyment of the moment. I find it far more intriguing than working a cross-word puzzle and even though the result is nine times out of ten consigned to destruction, the occasional one that I keep represents some kind of personal triumph. I suppose this is because I never had a lesson in art, and I just barely scraped through my West Point course in mechanical drawing

“Along with my appreciation of your approach to painting, I feel an even greater interest in your observations about the current American scene. I envy you your opportunities to think, and I certainly envy you your ability to express yourself.”

Historical Background
On August 22, 1951, “Swede” Hazlett sent a letter from Harold W. Whicker to Eizenhower. In an accompanying note, Hazlett wrote, “As I’ve told you before, Whick is a he-man—ex-professional wrestler, English prof, outstanding painter and essayist, outdoorsman—who is afflicted with a heart ailment but doesn’t let it get him down.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of several Presidents who enjoyed painting, though he always doubted that he had any talent. He began painting in 1948, while serving as President of Columbia University. During his two terms as president, he reportedly spent ten minutes painting every day before lunch. Eisenhower produced more than 260 paintings during his lifetime, mostly landscapes. He was particularly fond of scenes of his family farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He also painted several portraits, including ones of his wife Mamie, his granddaughter Anne, and a self-portrait, in addition to portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Two years before his death, Eisenhower wrote in At Ease, “After eighteen years, I am still messy; my hands are better suited to an ax handle than a tiny brush. I attempt only simple compositions. My frustration is complete when I try for anything delicate. Even yet I refuse to refer to my productions as paintings. They are daubs, born of my love of color and in my pleasure in experimenting, nothing else. I destroy two out of each three I start.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was born in Texas but grew up in Kanas. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1915. He served in the United States Army during World War I and was promoted to Major soon after the war. At the beginning of World War II, he joined the General Staff in Washington and quickly came to the attention of Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. In November 1942, Eisenhower became Supreme Commander of Allied forces in North Africa, and in December 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Eisenhower as Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe, and Eisenhower had primary responsibility for planning the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944. In November 1945, he returned from Europe to replace Marshall as Chief of Staff of the Army. Three years later, he became President of Columbia University, where he served until 1953. In 1952 and again in 1956, he won landslide elections as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. He served as President from 1953 to 1961. He was the only general to serve as President in the twentieth century.

Harold W. Whicker (1895-1955) graduated from Indiana University before serving in the military in World War I. He was an author, artist, and professor who taught at the University of Montana, the University of Maine, and the United States Naval Academy. By 1936, Whicker and his wife had returned to the Pacific Northwest, where they lived in retirement on Guemes Island, near Anacortes, Washington.

Edward E. “Swede” Hazlett (1892-1958) was born and grew up in Abilene, Kansas, where he developed a life-long friendship with Eisenhower. Hazlett graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1915 and served aboard the USS Leonidas during World War I. He transferred to the submarine service in the 1920s and served in the Navy Department in Washington in the mid-1930s. Ill health ended his active duty naval career in 1939, but he was called back to duty as an instructor at the Naval Academy from 1939 to 1944. From 1944 to 1946, he was Professor of Military Science for the Navy at the University of North Carolina.

Ex. The Forbes Collection. Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990), American owner-publisher of Forbes magazine, and consummate collector, amassed one of the most substantial and broad collections of such breadth and depth that it filled a half-dozen residences, and sat on three continents. Many of his manuscripts were sold in multi-million dollar sales by Christie's in the early 2000s. The Forbes name is considered to be the apex of provenance when attached to an item like the one above. We are honored to have been chosen by the family to sell at auction the substantial balance of the collection.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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