Art hardly ever comes up as a campaign issue in presidential elections.
But once voters decide, the artistic tastes of the first family become well known from the pieces they choose to adorn the White House.
Barack Obama has long taken pride in his artistic interests, taking Michelle to the Art Institute of Chicago on their first date, where he impressed his future wife with his knowledge of both the old masters and modern art.
When the couple moved into the White House, they selected bright, sharp, modern abstractions for the most part, from artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Rauschenberg and Alma Thomas among their 47 selections lent from the national collection.
Much less is known about what kind of art hangs in Mitt Romney's homes.
But Romney has the kind of direct artistic connection that Obama does not:
He is descended from the family of the famed 18th-century English portraitist who shares the name of the candidate's father, George Romney.
The earlier, equally famous George Romney (1734-1802) ranked behind only Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough as the top English portrait painter of his era, with his work still hanging in many top museums. Should Romney be elected, he could choose from eight portraits and nine drawings from the National Gallery of Art, where notes describe the artist as "introverted and neurotic," refusing to accept an invitation to join the Royal Academy though it was only through that membership that he could concentrate on his real interest, which was narrative or historical scenes.
Many of those works ended up in Washington, as well. The Folger Shakespeare Library, with nearly 500 works, has the second-largest collection of Romney drawings in America.
Still, Romney spent most of his career employed by top British society to depict their grand lives. "This cursed portrait painting!" he is said to have muttered. "How I am shackled with it!" (using a word, curiously, that became an issue in the current election).
Are there portraits by Mitt Romney's famous ancestor in his homes?
The campaign isn't saying. Calls to both campaigns were not returned.
Obama has a connection to a 19th-century British symbolist painter, but not by blood. "Hope" was the name of an 1886 work by one of the most famous artists of his day who is now nearly forgotten, George Frederic Watts. Part of a series known as the "House of Life," it depicts the blinded embodiment of Hope seated forlornly on a globe playing a tattered lyre whose strings are all broken but one.
It's a painting that might not have caught Obama's attention except that, nearly 100 years later, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright heard a reference to it in a speech by Frederick G. Sampson.
That in turn inspired Wright to deliver a sermon back at his own Chicago church titled "The Audacity of Hope." It was heard by a 29-year-old second-year Harvard Law student who went on to give the same title to his starmaking speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and two years later, his second best-selling book, released three months before he announced his presidential intentions.
And though "Hope" doesn't hang in the White House — both surviving versions are in London museums — there is a colorful history of a Watts painting that once was hung at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Watts was the first living artist to have a retrospective at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a 1884 show that attracted half a million people and had to be extended six months to fulfill demand. He thanked America by donating a painting, "Love and Life," to help start its first national art collection.
When "Love and Life" was sent to the Grover Cleveland White House shortly after its success at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893, it got no love from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, which complained about the nude depictions of the female Life being led up a rocky mountain by the winged male figure of Love. To stem the controversy, it was sent across street to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1895.
When Teddy Roosevelt brought it back to the White House during his term there were still more complaints — about the public not being able to easily see it there. It was sent to the Smithsonian in the early weeks of the Hoover administration and was sold in 1987.
Art has long been part of White House history, dating to Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, purchased in 1800 for $800. It was hanging there when John Adams was the first president to take residence. It still hangs in the East Wing thanks to Dolley Madison's famous bit of derring-do, saving it before the British burned the White House in the War of 1812.