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In portrait, she's still first lady


Although Frances Glendening is no longer an official presence in Annapolis, the former first lady will soon pose for an oil portrait that may have a permanent home in Government House.

The portraits of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and his former wife will go ahead as planned, according to Government House Foundation, the group charged with raising private funds to commission the portraits and carrying out improvements to the official residence.

The group would not say which state artist has been selected or how much money has been raised. The foundation's assets totaled $174,953 at the end of 2000, according to the group's most recent tax filings.

When she served as first lady, Glendening worked to promote and recognize the arts in Maryland. Keenly interested in women's history, she also initiated a Maryland State Archives research project that grew into an exhibition about the state's other first ladies - the wives, relatives and friends who served as the state's official hostesses since 1777.

So far, 55 women have been identified as performing the role of "first lady," but the state owns portraits of only 14 of them.

Glendening says she looks forward to the experience of sitting for her portrait and expects to wear "something bright.

"I'm a very strong advocate for the arts, and I find it exciting to be part of something like this."

Portraits are not hung - sometimes not even finished - until after a governor leaves office. The portrait of Governor Glendening should eventually hang in the State House.

It is not known whether Jennifer Crawford, the governor's new wife and state's 56th first lady, will request a portrait as well.

Mike Morrell, a spokesman for the couple, said, "They just got married. It's not the appropriate time to ask."

As to a second portrait, board chairman William Meyers says, "At this point the foundation is not raising any additional funds."

The state owns a portrait of Barbara Mandel, former Gov. Marvin Mandel's first wife, but not of his second wife, the late Jeanne Mandel. The former governor has an oil portrait of himself and Jeanne that he expects to eventually donate to the state.

Until the state's Lady of the House exhibit, the state archives did not even possess a formal photograph of Jeanne Mandel, according to curator Emily Squires. She borrowed one from Marvin Mandel, who allowed the state to make an archival electronic copy.

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