Governor Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)
Ezra Ames (1768-1836)
Oil on canvas
52 3/4 H x 41 W
Permanent Deposit by the City of Albany
Martin Van Buren came to Albany in 1812 as a state senator. By 1816 he was attorney general and had organized a powerful political machine that helped make him a United States senator. He was governor of New York State in 1829, resigning to become Andrew Jackson's secretary of state. He served as vice president and then was elected president of the United States in 1836. This portrait Van Buren is one of the Portraits of Seven Governors of New York series painted by Ezra Ames. Stylistically, it shows how Ames matured as an artist in the quarter-century since he painted The Fondey Family (also in the Albany Institute's collection). The fluted column at right in this painting symbolizes Van Buren's stability, endurance, and reverence for the "temple of government."