Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 15

“To me, Teddy’s Fourth of July is a snapshot of America at her best. I hope this painting captures the enthusiastic spirit of “Teddy” Roosevelt – and the nation and the little town that he loved so much.
— Mort Künstler


“It was such a pleasure doing a painting of someone I admire so much in a town that I love.”
— Mort Künstler

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 14

Roger Bahnik and his wife Lori are the driving force behind the Boys and Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich. When Roger commissioned me to do this painting, chances to appear in it were auctioned off at the Boys & Girls Club annual gala. A number of local residents are shown in the painting.


“I had a lot of fun figuring out where to put my models in the painting. I gave Roger Bahnik the honor of driving T.R. Lori can be seen on the right side of the painting, by the carriage in the green dress and hat.”
— Mort Künstler

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 13

Jim Foote impersonates T.R. at many events in Oyster Bay, as well as all over the country. In order to do his job so well, Jim has become an expert on Roosevelt. He helped with research, and posed for me in Roosevelt’s typical Panama hat and white linen suit.
— Mort Künstler


On a hot summer day in turn-of-the-century Oyster Bay, residents would have been greeted by Roosevelt in a cool linen suit, striding past the actual shops of the period seen in the background of the painting.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 12

Known for the historical accuracy of his paintings, Künstler spent many hours consulting historians, period photographs, books, and contemporary accounts. Down to the number of stars in the flags, the artist worked to perfect every detail.

Künstler went to an antique car show at Sagamore Hill in search of an appropriate car for “Teddy’s Fourth of July.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 11

Americans called him “Teddy” or “T.R.,” and even in his day he seemed larger than life. He was an author, a cowboy, a politician, a historian, a war hero, a social reformer – and the 26th President of the United States. Determined, exuberant, strong-willed, and patriotic, Theodore Roosevelt was like no other American president.


As Künstler paints the crowd of people, the viewer gets an idea of the excitement that T.R.’s visit would create.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 10

Roosevelt loved to come home to Oyster Bay and each visit was a personal and patriotic event – marked by flags, parades, speeches, and exuberant celebration.


The flags in the corners of the painting don’t just add interest and color, they guide the viewer to the painting’s center of interest.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 9

“Visit Oyster Bay today on your way to Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and you’ll recognize the building featured in the painting, just as Civil War buffs recognize so many period structures in my Civil War artworks.”
— Mort Künstler


The “Moore Building” was the local office for President Roosevelt’s staff during the days of the “Summer White House” at Oyster Bay. Its corner turret, curved window sashes, and curved glass are superbly reminiscent of turn-of-the-century Americana.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 8

Every year, in poll after poll – among Americans of all political persuasions – President Theodore Roosevelt consistently ranks as one of America’s most revered presidents.


He crusaded endlessly on matters big and small, exciting audiences with his high-pitched voice, jutting jaw, and pounding fist. As more of the Moore Building appears in color, Roosevelt’s sweeping gesture shows against it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 7

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in this era of American history. Oyster Bay proved to be the perfect model for small-town America in the early 20th Century.”
— Mort Künstler


Künstler has drawn up the entire painting and started to lay in the sky. You can see already that it will be a beautiful July day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 6

“What an extraordinary person was Theodore Roosevelt! And how special it is for me to paint him in our hometown of Oyster Bay, New York."
— Mort Künstler


When working on a painting, it is not unusual for Künstler to do sketches of small details. Here you can see T.R. holding his hat, and details of his suit.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 5

“Oyster Bay historian John Hammond was of enormous help in the research for this painting. Thanks to John, and to Theodore Roosevelt Association Director Jim Bruns, I was able to pore over countless period photographs of President Roosevelt, automobiles of the era and the appearance of Oyster Bay a century ago.”
— Mort Künstler


These photographs of Oyster Bay show the Moore Building when Roosevelt was president. Photos C and D were postcards of that era.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 4

“In all of the thousands of paintings I’ve done, only two have featured Theodore Roosevelt – until now. Teddy’s Fourth of July is my third, and the only one set in Oyster Bay. So this has been a rare and remarkable treat for me.”
— Mort Künstler


Künstler changed the location of the car again before completing his final sketch. He drew his final sketch on a piece of brown paper so he could highlight lighting effects with chalk. The grid drawn on this sketch helps the artist draw the final composition on the canvas.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 3

The Moore Building in Oyster Bay housed Teddy Roosevelt’s staff during the summers of his presidency from 1901 to 1909, when nearby Sagamore Hill became the “Summer White House.”


Here you see more developed charcoal sketches. Note that the car is in a different position from previous sketches.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 2

Throughout his presidency Roosevelt attempted to celebrate every Independence Day in his beloved hometown of Oyster Bay.


The scene is an actual event set in Oyster Bay, New York – site of Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill home and also Mort Künstler’s hometown. The artist’s studio is actually located almost next door to Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Künstler chose to portray Theodore Roosevelt in the village of Oyster Bay, which TR dearly loved. The love affair between Roosevelt and Oyster Bay continues to this day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Making of a Masterpiece: Teddy's Fourth of July
Phase 1

“For many years, my friend and Oyster Bay neighbor, Roger Bahnik, encouraged me to do a painting of Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay. I just always had too many projects underway, especially Civil War paintings. Finally, Roger told me, ‘Roosevelt is our Oyster Bay President; you are Oyster Bay’s artist – I want to commission you to do this painting.’ And I finally said, ‘He’s right. And I’m putting aside everything else until I do this painting.’”
— Mort Künstler


These are Künstler’s conceptual sketches. The first sketch shows a bird’s eye view of the intersection in Oyster Bay where the painting takes place. The little square in the top right corner of the intersection is the Moore Building featured in the painting.
 

All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Knstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright 2001-2011. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.