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Gen. Hayden's Portrait Joins CIA's Directors Gallery

The Directors Gallery at Agency Headquarters
The Directors Gallery at Agency Headquarters.
In its nearly 70-year history, only 21 men have served as a director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Each left an indelible mark on the Agency and its workforce. One way the Agency honors those who have led the CIA is by commissioning a portrait for the Directors Gallery at Agency Headquarters.

In late February, the Agency added Gen. Michael Hayden’s portrait to the Directors Gallery during a special ceremony honoring his service as the CIA’s 18th Director.


Then-Acting Director CIA Morell Honors Gen. Hayden

During the unveiling ceremony, then-Acting Director CIA Michael Morell lauded Gen. Hayden for his handling of difficult issues, including the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism. “In Gen. Hayden, we knew we had a leader who was willing to shoulder the weight of those issues for our Agency,” Mr. Morell said.

Gen. Hayden and portrait at a special ceremony honoring his service as the CIA’s 18th Director.
Gen. Hayden speaks to CIA officers during the portrait unveiling ceremony honoring his service as the CIA’s 18th Director.
Mr. Morell added that Gen. Hayden will be remembered specifically for his strategic planning and his strong advocacy for the Agency’s mission and its people. “For embodying that spirit and instilling it among his officers, the CIA will always owe the General a deep debt of gratitude,” Mr. Morell said.

Gen. Hayden also spoke at the ceremony about his time leading the Agency, noting that he missed the people and the mission most. His wife, Jeanine, was on hand for the portrait unveiling and is also depicted in his painting. During Gen. Hayden’s tenure, Jeanine accompanied Gen. Hayden at many Agency events and actively supported the spouses and families of CIA officers.


The Artist behind the Portrait

At the unveiling ceremony, Mr. Morell thanked artist Steven Polson for the many hours of work that went into the painting of Gen. Hayden.

Capturing Gen. Hayden’s essence is one of the hardest aspects of portrait painting, noted the artist's representative Jasmine Sewell, saying, “It is very easy to capture his likeness, but it is truly difficult to capture his essence.”

Official portrait of former D/CIA Gen. Michael V. Hayden
Former D/CIA Hayden’s official portrait
Polson’s portrait painting process began with intensive research about Gen. Hayden, including interviews with colleagues and his wife, and reading biographies and articles about him. Sewell explained that the best portraits are those that immediately connect the viewer to the subject. “It could be their smile, their body language, or even their clothing, but something about that portrait calls to mind a story or anecdote on the subject,” Sewell said.

Polson achieved these aims in the Hayden portrait. As Mr. Morell said during the unveiling ceremony, the portrait “is a work that really brings home the warmth, the honesty and the integrity of its subject.”

Posted: Mar 21, 2013 07:45 AM
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2013 10:46 AM