- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Perhaps former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s best excuse should be that he was too busy running Maryland to sit long enough for a painting, but Mr. Ehrlich’s four-year term has ended and his official portrait still is not hanging inside the State House.

Mr. Ehrlich has declined to say why he has no portrait to go with those of the state’s 12 other most recent governors, hung in the second-floor reception room, a stately space in which governors hold press conferences and other events.

Former staffer Paul E. Schurick said only that Mr. Ehrlich, the state’s first Republican governor in 34 years, was “in the preliminary stages of vetting possible artists.”

The room also is home to Board of Public Works meetings, which became infamous for the political theater performed by Mr. Ehrlich and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer during the past four years.

If completed, Mr. Ehrlich’s portrait would hang next to that of his predecessor, Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Mr. Glendening’s portrait raised some eyebrows because he posed in a polo shirt, khakis and blazer to stand along Marshyhope Creek — part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

His predecessors all posed in suits, many inside their offices.

Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, presented his portrait just before the end of his second term, which is typical for two-term governors, said Elaine Rice Bachmann, curator of the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property at the State Archives.

A one-term governor such as Mr. Ehrlich unveiling a portrait after leaving office is not unusual, she said.

Mr. Schaefer, also a former governor, strike a more formal pose in his portrait. Though Mr. Schaefer wears a suit, he is seated at his desk with black Labrador “Willie” by his side.

The portraits vary in size but have become increasingly larger, prompting Mrs. Bachmann to caution governors not to follow the example of Gov. Thomas Holliday Hicks.

Mr. Hicks, who served from 1858 to 1862, commissioned a portrait almost 9 feet tall. The portrait was so large and unwieldy that it had to be removed from display to be preserved, Mrs. Bachmann said.

“It’s a great example of Victorian excess,” she added.

The portraits also have been the center of political controversy.

In 1995, Mr. Glendening resurrected the portrait of Gov. Spiro T. Agnew from the State Archives, long after Mr. Agnew was forced to resign as vice president of the United States.

Most recently, Mr. Ehrlich moved the portrait of Gov. Blair Lee III, a Democrat, to a spot on the wall between Govs. Harry R. Hughes and Marvin Mandel. It had previously hung in the lieutenant governor’s office. As acting governor, Mr. Lee served the remaining term of Mr. Mandel, who was convicted of mail fraud and racketeering and sent to prison.

The state used to pay for the portraits, though recent governors have privately raised the money, as Mr. Ehrlich is likely to do, said Mimi Calver, the Government House Trust’s director of exhibits and artistic property.

Mr. Glendening’s portrait cost $35,000.

Mr. Schurick said Mr. Ehrlich, 49, will make an announcement about his portrait “within the next couple weeks.”

Though Mr. Schurick would not release more details, he guaranteed that Mr. Ehrlich would not appear in business-casual attire.

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