Gallery 98

Watergate Courtroom Sketches by Freda L. Reiter, 1973–75

Nixon resigns

Freda Reiter, “Alone in Oval Office,” pastel on paper, 1975. Reiter imagined Nixon shedding a tear after signing his resignation letter.

A Republican president on the verge of impeachment, accused of obstructing an investigation into the theft of information from the Democratic National Committee—this was the story in 1973 and 1974, when members of Richard Nixon’s administration went on trial, and the phrase “Watergate” became shorthand for a many-layered political scandal. Artist Freda L. Reiter (1919–1986) captured the drama in pastel drawings broadcast on ABC-TV: courtroom scenes drawn from life, as well as visual recreations of Nixon’s tape-recorded conversations, and even of the moment he resigned from the presidency.

Watergate was as much a media event as a political one. The story that broke on June 17, 1972, when five burglars were caught wiretapping the DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex, blew up when investigations by the Washington Post and other papers tied the burglary to Nixon’s White House.

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Exhibition Items

President Richard Nixon, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman in Oval Office in 1973, c. 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Nixon, Charles Colson in Executive Office in 1973, c. 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Nixon, Colson on phone in 1973, c. 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Senator Sam Ervin, Senate Watergate Committee hearings, 1973

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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G. Gordon Liddy and wife Frances Liddy, c. 1973/74

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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E. Howard Hunt out on bail, January 2, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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White House Plumbers: G. Gordon Liddy, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, and (right) Ehrlichman, c. July 12, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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John Dean goes to testify, 1973

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Guards outside grand jury room, 1973

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Empty grand jury room, 1973

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Herbert Porter pleading guilty of perjury, January 28, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Prosecutor Jill Wine-Volner questions Jeb Magruder, October 30, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Haldeman questioned by Richard Ben-Veniste, as daughter Ann Haldeman watches, c. December 3, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Ben-Veniste questions Dean, as Ehrlichman watches, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Dean testifies at trial of Dwight Chapin, April 3, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Maureen Dean, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Nixon's attorney, James D. St. Clair, January 18, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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St. Clair petitions Supreme Court, United States v. Nixon, July 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Haldeman listens to Nixon White House tapes, October 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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John Mitchell listens to Nixon White House tapes, October 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Ehrlichman listens to Nixon White House tapes, October 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Judge John Sirica instructs Watergate jury, December 30, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Sirica reads verdict, 1974

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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Nixon resigns in 1974, 1975

Pastel drawing, 17″ x 14″

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