50th Inaugural Luncheon
Presentations and Toasts
Charles McCurdy Mathias Jr.
Remarks and Toast
Ronald W. Reagan
Robert H. Michel
The Smithsonian Chamber Players have provided music for the inaugural luncheon since 1981. Directed by Kenneth Slowik, the group specializes in performing historical masterworks of the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. The music they perform today is a mixture of American repertoire pieces written for early nineteenth-century presidents, as well as some of the European compositions found in the extensive music library of Thomas Jefferson
Autumn on the Hudson River
by Jasper Francis Cropsey
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Americans found special meaning in the unspoiled freshness, magnitude, and breathtaking beauty of the American landscape. In contrast to the cities of Europe, nature became the symbol of American identity, and landscape painting became America's national art.
The Hudson River valley above New York City inspired many landscape artists and gave rise to the Hudson River School of painting. Jasper Cropsy, one of the most successful members of this group, painted Autumn - On the Hudson River in 1860. It is his largest and most significant work.
Autumn - On the Hudson River captures several American ideals: the raw power and grand scale of the landscape and the strength of human enterprise. On the canvas, the Hudson River, depicted at its widest point, moves through the majestic valley. Along the river’s banks are several villages, signs of man’s peaceful and profitable interaction with nature. Hunters and their dogs occupy the foreground as well as a log cabin, grazing sheep, wading cattle, and children at play, enhancing this pastoral scene. The bright, autumnal colors have no seasonal counterpart. All of these elements serve as a visual declaration of America’s divinely sanctioned purpose.
The President and Vice President received Steuben crystal bowls with engraved silver bases; guests received crystal paperweights in the form of a tetrahedron, also made by Steuben.