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.