Executive Colors

A visual exploration of the colors of U.S. presidental portraits

When I saw in person the vivid colors of Barack Obama's presidential portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, a question popped in my mind: Has the presidential portrait tradition changed over the years when it comes to its color palette? I set out to explore this in all the presidential portraits.

What you see above are the most prevalent colors in the portraits. This project is just an experiment, if you want to know more about how I did it, you can read about it here.

43 presidents, 16 Colors

Explore how the colors used in presidential portraits have evolved. Or look for what colors portrait your favorite president.

ABOUT THE DATA: The data used for this project was created using the programming language R and the package PaletteR. This package uses statistical analysis to extract the most prominent colors from an image (and, of course, it isn't perfect). You can read more about it here. I decided to extract 16 colors from each portrait. That number is arbitrary.

The visualizations were made with JavaScript. You can find the R and JavaScript code here.

The goal of this project was just to play with this two tools, to have some fun.

The portrait images came mostly from The White House Historical Association and President Barack Obama's White House website.

If you want to learn more about the portraits of the U.S. presidents (and the first ladies), you should listen to this podcast. And if you are in Washington, D.C., you should visit the National Portrait Gallery.

If you have any thoughts, comments or ideas, you can find my contact in my website.