The press got its first glimpse of President Joe Biden’s Oval Office on Wednesday, showing how in a matter of hours the office has visibly transformed in both dramatic and subtle ways to reflect the taste and politics of the officeholder.
Biden made some changes to the office’s artwork. A portrait of Andrew Jackson, to the left of the seat at the Resolute Desk, has been replaced with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis. Like other works routinely lent to the White House, the portrait appears to be on loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gallery of Art.
The Washington Post, which got a first look at the Oval’s new interior decorations, reported that the Franklin portrait and a nearby moon rock set are meant to represent Biden’s interest in science.
Chavez sought to bring awareness to the harsh conditions of farmworkers in the US and fight for better wages. The prominent inclusion of his bust in the West Wing came the same day that Biden proposed immigration legislation that would allow undocumented farmworkers to qualify to apply for green cards immediately.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the labor leader’s granddaughter, is Biden’s director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Though not entirely visible to television cameras, the Post reported that “busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy flank a fireplace in the office” — in an apparent nod to their efforts in the civil rights movement.
There are also busts of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and an Allan Houser sculpture depicting a horse and Chiricahua Apache rider. The sculpture, the Post said, once belonged to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat representing Hawaii.
The Post report says other parts of the office now feature paintings of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and a bust of Daniel Webster, a former senator who defended the Union. A bust of Winston Churchill has been removed from display.