Somber official portrait of Gov. Chafee released

Governor Chafee's official portrait by artist Julie Gearan. (credit: Cade Tompkins Projects)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Lincoln Chafee’s four years as Rhode Island governor came to an end shortly after noon on Tuesday, and within hours the state’s residents got their first look at his official portrait.

The painting by Julie Gearan, a Providence artist, shows a somber Chafee looking off into the distance against a dark background.

“I know he wants something different, or else he wouldn’t have chosen me to do this,” Gearan told an interviewer last fall. “And one of the things I’ve come to after talking to him is that he feels sort of isolated there at the State House. I can’t not think in metaphor, so I want to imbue [the portrait] with some sense of what this term has been like for him.”

Chafee posed for the portrait at Gearan’s studio on Oct. 16, according to Cade Tompkins, a Providence art dealer who released the portrait Tuesday and who sells Gearan’s artwork.

Under state law, a portrait of each governor is required to be commissioned before he or she leaves office. Chafee selected Gearan from a group of 124 artists who applied, according to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She will be paid $15,000 for the painting, the same fee paid to the artists who painted former Govs. Don Carcieri and Lincoln Almond, the council said.

The portrait of Chafee will be displayed on the walls of the State House.

Gina Raimondo, who succeeded Chafee as governor on Tuesday after he declined to seek a second term, paid tribute to the outgoing governor at the start of her inaugural address, “expressing our shared heartfelt appreciation to Governor Chafee for his more than 25 years of dedicated public service to our state.”

Chafee’s portrait is in marked contrast to those of his two predecessors, as shown below:

Lincoln Almond portrait Don Carcieri portrait

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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