ID this painting in Mr. Smith Goes to Wash.?

Hey gang. Was watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of my standard comfort films, and found myself fascinated by the set dressing in the office of Senator Paine (the wonderful Claude Rains), the well-respected, seemingly noble senior senator/mentor of our hero, Jefferson Smith.

As a senator of 20+ years, his office is littered with pictures, mementos and honors. Most of the pictures are photos of Paine w/family or colleagues, or caricatures, and they’re in the background.

But in one rather extended shot of Sen. Paine and Jefferson Smith (James Stewart, natch), two pictures in the background are very prominent. One of them is a photo of Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold)-- the crooked wealthy guy who “owns” Sen. Paine and most of their unnamed state.

The other picture is a painting of a man who looks like a historical figure, my guess dating from pre-WWI or thereabouts, from Europe (WAG … maybe Austria?). He’s wearing medals and a sash that indicates either royal or military commenation of some kind. I’m curious who this guy is. Here is the shot with the painting in question.

Set dressers have a reason for including specific artwork, and the director (Frank Capra) had an amazing eye for detail. The choice doesn’t seem random, especially considering the length of the shot. So who is he?

I’m just wondering if a) this is someone the 1939 audience would have immediately recognized, and if so, b) if it’s supposed to be indicative of Paine’s character, like the picture of Taylor is.

This is definitely a guess, but it looks A LOT like General Pershing to me, and people in 1939 would definitely know him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Pershing

Ooh, wow! Yes, that looks like a match, with the uniform identical as well as the face.

The sash is what made me think European – I didn’t know the US military used sashes post-19th century. (Then again, I know very little about the military.)

Thanks, delphica. Out of curiosity, did you recognize him right away? I’ve heard of Pershing, but I couldn’t have picked him out of a line-up.

Or possibly Adna Chaffe

I can’t find a cite, but I don’t think the Army Chief of Staff still wore the gold sash when Pershing took the job.

(missed edit window) The army phased out both dress bluess & whites during WWI, and didn’t bring them back until 1935, bracketing Pershing’s term as Chief of Staff. So a man in the dress blue uniform with the CoS sash couldn’t be Pershing.

Interesting! Here’s a painting of Chaffe. Comparing that with the screenshot I linked, the sash/uniform is almost the same, but the difference in epaulets is pretty significant. The braids/tassels are huge on Chaffe. The dude in MSGTW doesn’t appear to have tassels on his epaulets.

Here are all three together. Pershing on the left, Chaffe on the right. It’s not Chaffe. It could be a younger Pershing.

Hee! garygnu, that’s terrific! Thank you for that.

I think it is Pershing. I’ve been searching to see if Pershing ever wore a sash, and found this photograph. So pace to Slithy Tove, but it looks like this could well be the guy.

Surprising that I can’t find the specific painting/photo, though. (Actually, I think the image in the screenshot looks like a painting – hard to tell, I guess.)

I’m a weird Theodore Roosevelt fangirl, and once you get into Roosevelt, you come across a lot of information about Pershing.

Nothing weird about that. My hat is off to you!

Found another pic. Oh if they’d only taken these photos from the other side!!

So now the question is, what’s he doing there next to creepy bastard Jim Taylor?

It could be as simple as a set decorator grabbing some random pictures at a rummage sale.