Governor Mario Cuomo’s Portrait Unveiled at State Capitol

June 20, 2013

Governor Andrew Cuomo reveals Governor Mario Cuomo’s portrait at unveiling ceremony in Albany.

On June 15, the official portrait of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, former New York governor and Willkie of counsel, was unveiled at the state Capitol in Albany. The painting was revealed by his son Gov. Andrew Cuomo before a crowd of hundreds that included many former colleagues and friends who delighted in catching Gov. Mario Cuomo by surprise.

"We had all of the portraits in place. All of the portraits were restored. We were missing just one portrait, by a famously shy governor, who was still unwilling to sit for a portrait — considering it an act of indulgence, God forbid," the current governor said, referring to his father. "So, never to be stymied by an obstacle, the Cuomo administration found a way to get the portrait even without the person knowing. Who said the portrait artist ever really needed to see the person he was painting? That’s why God made photographs."

The portrait, based on a 1989 photo, was painted by famed portrait artist Simmie Knox, the first black artist to paint a New York governor. The ceremony took place on Mario Cuomo’s 81st birthday and the day before Father’s Day. Andrew Cuomo said his father’s portrait was "the cherry on the cake" to a restoration of the Capitol and a reorganization of the existing governors’ portraits. The unveiling was followed by a reception at the Executive Mansion.

Mario Cuomo was elected New York State’s 52nd governor, serving from 1983 to 1994. He was the longest serving democratic governor in the modern history of New York State and won the two largest electoral victories ever. In 12 years at the helm of the nation’s most populous state, Governor Cuomo steered the state through two recessions, balanced 12 consecutive budgets and created more than half a million jobs. Prior to serving as governor, he was appointed by Governor Carey as New York’s Secretary of State, and in 1978 was elected Lieutenant Governor, a position he held until going on to win the governorship in 1982.

Governor Cuomo reentered private practice in 1995 at Willkie.