Museum logo
Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
Accession Number 1900.001
Catalog Number 1900.001.062
Object Name Painting
Title Portrait of Richard Celeste
Description Ohio's 64th governor, Richard "Dick" Celeste (1983-1991), is seen sitting in a wooden chair with his elbows resting on the chair arms. He wears a dark brown jacket with lighter brown pants, a white, red striped tie and a lapel pin. He is seated before a draped black curtain.
Date 1991
Artist Nestor, Ruth A.
Notes Richard Celeste was born on November 11, 1937, in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Yale University in 1959, and he then studied overseas at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, he embarked upon a career in public service, working for the Peace Corps and then as an executive assistant to the United States Ambassador to India (1963 to 1967).

In 1970, Celeste entered politics, joining the Ohio House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party. He served two terms. Four years later, Celeste became Ohio's lieutenant governor. The current governor was James Rhodes, a Republican. In 1978, Celeste tried to unseat Rhodes in the gubernatorial election, but he lost to the incumbent. Following this defeat, President Jimmy Carter appointed Celeste as director of the Peace Corps, a position that he held from 1979 to 1981.

In 1982, Celeste returned to Ohio and ran for the state's governor's seat a second time. Rhodes was not eligible to run due to term limits. Celeste defeated the Republican candidate, Clarence Brown, becoming Ohio's governor. In 1986, Celeste won reelection against James Rhodes, who once again was eligible to run.

As governor, Celeste vowed to increase state funding to education, health services, and welfare program. During this period, Ohio ranked near last among the other states in funding for these programs. To accomplish his goal, Celeste and the Democratic-controlled legislature increased the state income tax by ninety percent. A referendum to overturn the tax increase failed, but in 1984, voters returned the Ohio Senate to Republican control. Celeste also opened government positions to African Americans and women in larger numbers than ever before. The governor faced much criticism during his administration, because it appeared that to be appointed to office or to receive business contracts with the state, people and businesses had to be loyal members of or large financial contributors to the Democratic Party. Celeste also dealt with the Home State Savings Bank failure during his first term in office, restoring confidence in Ohio's banking institutions.

Celeste was ineligible to seek reelection in 1990 due to term limits. He left politics to establish his own consulting company, Celeste & Sabety Ltd., in Columbus, Ohio. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed the former governor as the United States Ambassador to India. He remained as ambassador from 1997 to 2001. In 2002, Celeste became president of Colorado College, a position that he still holds at the time of this writing.
People Celeste, Richard F., 1937-
Nestor, Ruth
Signed Name "Ruth Nestor 91"
Sig Loc Upper right in red
Image size 45" x 37"
Frame size 50-3/4" x 42-3/4"
Frame desc Late twentieth century gilt molded frame
Material Oil Paint/Canvas/Wood
Provenance In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution relative to the governors of Ohio. The legislators resolved that "the secretary of state, on the first Monday of January next, whether the portraits of the governors of Ohio, state and territorial, can be procured, and if so, whether original portraits or copies, and the probable expense of procuring such portraits for the governor's office."

Some controversy surrounded the portrait of Governor Celeste in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Richard Treater painted a portrait of Dick Celeste as lieutenant governor (1975-1979). When the portrait was unveiled it drew gasps and guffaws from the audience. Money for that portrait came through the Ohio Arts Council and it hung in the Senate chamber.

There had been several previous lieutenant governors who had their portraits painted while in that office and then had a second portrait done when they became governor.

In 1989 there was a resolution in the proposed budget of a $50,000 item, part of which was to pay for painting a portrait of Celeste as governor. Estimates for the portrait ranged from $10,000 to $15,000 with the remaining money to be spent on repairing other governor's portraits.

A Republican senator from Parma Heights suggested that the state use the lieutenant governor portrait of Celeste as his official governor's portrait even though it was not flattering.

An editorial in a March 1989 Akron Beacon Journal flatly stated, "It's a simple argument. Celeste has been governor of Ohio for two terms. Governors have official portraits done to hang in the Statehouse. Celeste deserves the same consideration given to other governors."

A portrait of Celeste as governor was painted and signed by Ruth A. Nestor. Although it is signed "91", the portrait was unveiled on Tuesday, January 4, 1994 in the Statehouse Atrium.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board took over the care of the Statehouse and its collections in 1988. The portrait currently hangs in the Senate Minority Caucus Room.
Search Terms Ohio Governor
Ohio Governor's Portraits
Subjects Governors
Painting
Portrait paintings
Collection Statehouse Artwork Collection/Governors' Portraits