Elizabeth Shoumatoff

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Elizabeth Shoumatoff
Elizabeth Shoumatoff.jpg
Native name Russian: Елизавета Николаевна Шуматова
Born Elizabeth Avinoff
(1888-10-06)October 6, 1888
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died November 30, 1980(1980-11-30) (aged 92)
Occupation Portrait Artist
Known for Last portrait of President Roosevelt (FDR)
Notable work Portraits of FDR, Frick, Dupont, President Johnson
Spouse(s) Leo Shoumatoff

Elizabeth Shoumatoff (Russian: Елизавета Николаевна Шуматова, née Avinoff) (October 6, 1888 – November 30, 1980) was a Russian-American painter who was best known for painting the Unfinished Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other paintings included Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.[1]

Early life[edit]

Shoumatoff was born in Moscow on October 6, 1888, into an aristocratic family in what was then Imperial Russia. Her brother Andrey Avinoff was a prominent entomologist and artist. Elizabeth Shoumatoff went to the United States with her husband Leo Shoumatoff (a member of the Russian Purchasing Commission) in 1917 and after the October Revolution decided to stay there. They eventually made their home on Long Island. Leo Shoumatoff died in 1928 (drowned).


Her extraordinary talent for portraiture brought commissions from some of the most illustrious families in America, Great Britain and Europe. Her clients included members of the Frick, du Pont, Mellon, Woodruff and Firestone families,[1] plus the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting for her at Warm Springs, Georgia, when he suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945.[2] When she was working, he said "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head."[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

She died in November 1980 at age 92 and her estate donated some of the sketches related to the Unfinished Portrait to the Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum.[4] Some of her other works and materials from the latter part of her life are now in the Archives of American Art.[5]


  1. ^ a b Shoumatoff, Elizabeth (1991). FDR's Unfinished Portrait: A Memoir. University of Pittsburgh Press. ASIN 0822936593. ISBN 978-0-8229-3659-6. 
  2. ^ "Franklin D. Roosevelt Day by Day – April". In Roosevelt History. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Collections and Programs. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  3. ^ "FDR's Final Days". History Channel Club. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Shoumatoff". Elizabeth Shoumatoff. Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum. Archived from the original on 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Shoumatoff papers, 1945–1991". Archives of American Art. Retrieved 2012-05-14.