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Biographical Notes on Robert Roche
Categories of Works - Mexican and Peruvian Indians, Rural South and Dust Bowl, Amish and Mennonites, Famous Americans, People of New England, Thoroughbred Racing, Still Life
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Portraits of Famous Americans

Ralph Bunche

In 1957, Robert Roché started a series of paintings of famous Americans from life.They were painted in what is known as the "alla prima" technique, which means one direct layer of paint applied with precise, bravura brushwork. This takes tremendous skill, and control. The greatest exponents of this technique were Frans Hals, Velàsquez, Manet and the more contemporary, Sargent. and Sorolla.

Each portrait is painted in oil on canvas, size 20 x 16 inches.

The portrait of President Harry S Truman was painted at the Truman Library, Independence, Missouri. This photograph of Robert Roché was taken while he created the portrait of the former president.


Robert Roche painting the portrait of President Truman - He has painted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in a similar fashion.

The portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt was painted at her home, Val-Kill Cottage, Hyde Park, New York. Before doing each portrait, Roche' explained to the sitter that it would not be a society, surface-type portrayal, but realistic and down-to-earth. Mrs. Roosevelt's reply was "Dr. Bunche explained that to me and that is the very reason I am letting you paint me". While Mrs. Roosevelt was posing, she wrote about the sitting for her "My Day" syndicated column which appeared in the New York Post, July 30, 1957. The quote from this article is,

" If there is one thing I dislike more than any other, it is sitting for my portrait.  But Dr. Ralph Bunche, who had just had this portrait painted by the same artist, was persuasive enough to get me to sit for Robert Roché.  It took a little over two hours, and I hope it serves the artist's purpose, for he is making a record of Americans who have served in these intitial years in helping to build the United Nations.  Posterity will  think I was a grim old lady, but it is a good likeness, and I think Roché is a very good painter."

Ralph Bunche was painted in his office at the United Nations Building, New York City. Dr. Bunche (1904-1971) was an American statesman, United Nations official and educator at Howard and Harvard Universities. His work in mediating the Arab-Israeli dispute over Palestine earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, making him the first black so-honored.  He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

The paintings noted above have been kept under wraps since they were painted in 1957, because of their historic importance and inherent investment value. The greatest impact of these three paintings is as a group because of the significance of the sitters, particularly relating to the United Nations and the formation of Israel (as Clark Clifford stated in his writings).

Bernard M. Baruch

The portrait of Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965). was painted in his New York City residence. He was an American financier, statesman and adviser to six presidents.

Bernard M. Baruch


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