‘Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue’ at the National Portrait Gallery (photos)

It was no ordinary crime. Some private campaign documents were photographed and phones were tapped, but the burglary was foiled by a vigilant security guard. After the five perpetrators were arrested, the press and the US Department of Justice linked money found on them at the time to President Nixon’s re-election campaign committee.

It was June 17, 1972, and the incident at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, then located on the sixth floor of the Watergate Office Building in Washington DC, led to an investigation that would uncover numerous abuses of power by the Nixon administration. This would ultimately lead to Nixon’s resignation (August 9, 1974) and the imprisonment of several of his associates—and would bring many other names connected with the case into the limelight.

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, on Friday unveiled a new exhibit titled “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Watergate scandal. “This heist quickly escalated into a political and legal crisis that reached the highest levels of the United States government and became a subject of intrigue among the general public and artists,” said the senior historian. by interim Kate Clarke Lemay, curator of the exhibition. .

Richard Nixon: 1973 ink drawing by George Giusti.

“Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue,” located on the first floor of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG), will be on view until September 5, 2022.

Each item in the exhibit comes from the NPG’s permanent collection and has been selected for its historical and artistic value.

The news media would play a key role in unraveling the scandal. Time Magazine alone devoted more than 40 Watergate-related cover stories – and portraits – to the scandal, of which 12 portraits are part of the exhibit. Investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein helped The Washington Post win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1973, based largely on their reporting of the emerging scandal and President Nixon’s attempts to not only cover up the case, but to order the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation into the initial burglary.

Included are works by artists Richard Avedon, Marisol Escobar, George Guisti and Dirck Halstead; and political illustrators and cartoonists of the time, including Jack Davis, Patrick Oliphant and Edward Sorel.

Among the 23 works on display are portraits of major players such as Senator Barry Goldwater, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, Attorney General John Mitchell and whistleblower John Dean, as well as others on the periphery who would play key roles, such as “Deep Throat,” informant Mark Felt, Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods, and John Mitchell’s wife Martha.

The National Portrait Gallery, located at 8th and G Streets NW in Washington, DC, is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission to the National Portrait Gallery and all other Smithsonian museums in the district is free. .

The exhibition “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” runs until September 5, 2022. For more information, visit https://npg.si.edu/exhibition/watergate.

Click on the photo icons below for a slideshow featuring portraits from “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” at the National Portrait Gallery.

Key wordsKatharine GrahamBarry GoldwaterDeep ThroatDirck HalsteadEdward SorelGeorge GuistiHenry KissingerJack DavisJohn DeanJohn MitchellMarisol EscobarMark FeltMartha MitchellMt. RushmoreNixonNPGPatrick OliphantphotographyPortrait; museumRichard AvedonRose Mary WoodsscandalU.S. Department of Justice

Julia P. Cluff