President Lyndon B. Johnson & Porfirio Salinas

"Cactus Flowers" hanging in President Johnson's study at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park (LBJ Ranch)

Exterior of the LBJ Ranch

      President Lyndon Baines Johnson was an enthusiastic collector of paintings by Porfirio Salinas. Like a number of other prominent Texans in Democratic Party politics, including speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and Governor John Connally, Johnson was introduced to Salinas' work by Dewey Bradford of Austin, Texas. Initially Johnson collected art for his ranch, which sits between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, Texas.

      After winning the national election of 1960 and ascending to the Vice Presidency, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson purchased "Les Ormos," a three-story mansion in the exclusive Spring Valley section of Washington, D.C. that had belonged to socialite and ambassador Perle Mesta. Johnson famously said that every time the press referred to the house as a French chateau, that he "lost" fifty thousand votes back in Texas. So the home was renamed "The Elms." In a Time magazine article from 1961 the redecoration of the home was covered at length and the piece mentioned that, "From Texas came the Johnson collection of paintings and drawings from their favorite Texas artists – Porfirio Salinas, who specializes in scenes of Texas' Hill Country, and Kelly Fering. Says Lady Bird who moved a few of the Texas works near the front door: 'I just want to see them when I open the door, to remind me where I come from.'"

      Mrs. Johnson was, of course, famously enthusiastic about wildflowers and so the paintings of Hill Country bluebonnets and poppies pleased her as much as they did her husband. After President Kennedy's terrible assassination the Johnson's brought their Salinas paintings with them to the White House, where they graced the private quarters for the next five years.


Hill Country Road.
Presented to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson by his staff, June 27, 1960. Hanging in sitting room of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park
Lady Bird Johnson by Aaron Shikler, 1978
Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, University of Texas, Austin
Texas Red Oaks, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, University of Texas, Austin
Texas Bluebonnets, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, University of Texas, Austin

Desk at the LBJ Ranch