George M. Bibb (1776 - 1859) was appointed President Tyler's fourth Secretary of the Treasury in 1844, upon the resignation of John C. Spencer. He was a very aged man when he assumed the Treasury position, dressing "in antique style, with knee breeches."
Sec. George M. Bibb
Oil on canvas
64 x 54 1/2 x 4 1/2"
His Annual Report on the State of the Finances for 1844 consisted of an elaborate compilation of statistics detailing the financial history of the Nation since 1789. In addition, he presented a solid argument for the establishment of a "sinking fund," accumulated through regular deposits and used to pay the interest and principal on the national debt. Bibb advocated using Treasury's surplus revenue from Customs and Internal Revenue collection to supply the sinking fund. Such a fund had been used effectively to reduce the deficit from 1789 to 1835 but Bibb was unable to revive it. After serving less than a year, Bibb resigned at the end of Tyler's Administration in 1845.
About the Artist
Henry Ulke (1821-1910) began his artistic career in Berlin, as a court painter under Professor Wach. While in Berlin he became associated with the revolutionary party and enlisted in the revolutionary army. He immigrated to New York in 1852 and moved six years later to Washington, D.C. where he established a successful portrait business. In his studio on Pennsylvania Avenue he made both photographic and painted portraits of eminent members of Washington's social and political worlds. Many of his oil portraits were, in fact, based on his own photographs, which he used as preliminary sketches. However, Ulke's 1880 portrait of George M. Bibb, painted thirty-five years after Bibb's tenure as Secretary, was probably copied from an earlier painting.