In memory of former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who died on 19 November at age 96, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, is displaying her portrait on the museum’s first-floor In Memoriam Wall until 3 January 2024.
The portrait, a pastel double-image on illustration board, was completed in 1976 by artist Robert Clark Templeton, best known for his presidential portraits of Lyndon B. Johnson and Rosalyn's husband, Jimmy Carter.
Rosalynn Carter was the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981. She married Jimmy Carter in 1946, helping to manage the operation of her husband’s family peanut business in rural Georgia.
“Over the years, we became not only friends and lovers, but partners”, she later explained. As of October 2019, the pair were the longest-married presidential couple in history, celebrating their 77th wedding anniversary in July 2023.
In her capacity as first lady, Carter famously championed the rights and humanity of those suffering with mental illness, garnering a reputation for her involved, high-minded attitude towards matters of the state. “I was more a political partner than a political wife,” she wrote in her 1984 memoir, First Lady From Plains.
She lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment, elevating women to prominent positions in the White House and pushing Congress to formally recognise the first lady as a federal position. Her activism also had global influence, raising thousands of dollars for refugee relief in Cambodia, improving elder care and advocating for early childhood immunisation. After their departure from the White House, the Carters continued their advocacy work, jointly winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Rosalyn Carter's husband, the longest-living president in US history, celebrated his 99th birthday last month. He has been in hospice care at the couple's home in Plains, Georgia, since February 2023.