• Mary Evans Seeley

President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan Christmas Card: The Red Room

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Nancy Reagan's favorite room in the White House was the Red Room and thus the subject of their 1982 Christmas card and gift print.

In 1982, the Reagan’s commissioned James Steinmeyer, noted for his interior renderings, to illustrate the Red Room. It was part of Nancy Reagan's plan to showcase the White House at Christmas.

The Red Room held many memories for the First Lady. It was in the Red Room where she and Raisa Gorbachev had coffee and where the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko asked her, “Does your husband believe in peace or war?” “Peace,” she assured him.

Steinmeyer created the art in his studio using detailed photographs taken of the furniture and overall room. Focusing on the fireplace, he documented the room meticulously. Steinmeyer added a holiday touch by placing magnolia leaves in vases and evergreens and pomegranates on the mantel. The First Lady told him how pleased they were with his warm rendering of the Red Room. Reimbursed for his work, the artist then gave the painting to the White House. A press release noted that Steinmeyer’s gouaches were reminiscent of 19th century watercolors which would reproduce every object in the room in detail while also conveying the sense of light and shadows in the room.

To commemorate Reagans' selection of the Red Room for their Christmas cards and gifts, I incorporated a likeness of the Reagan Red Room on a Christmas ornament in 2018, which you can see in my "Ornaments" section.

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