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Red Room
Caroline Harrison, Nine of Hearts

From the collection of Tom LeClaire
Oil on linen, 40 x 64"
©1998 Tina Mion


Caroline Harrison was a Sunday painter. While First Lady, she conducted china-painting classes, though her creative urges were mainly spent on renovating the President’s house, with special attention to the Red Room. She felt the White House was in dire need of an overhaul, so she had electricity installed throughout, even though she was too terrified of it to turn on a lamp.

Caroline died in the White House after contracting tuberculosis. In my painting, Caroline’s restless spirit enters the Red Room to admire her own renovation work — or perhaps she returned in search of her niece Mary? Mary took care of Caroline during her illness, only to swoop in after Caroline’s death to marry the widower Benjamin, Caroline’s former husband.

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