American Portrait was painted by Cenedella in 1975 in response to the resignation of the 37th President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon. After mountains of evidence kept pointing to Nixon's guilt in the Watergate scandal, he did not want to go through inevitable impeachment proceedings, which Congress would have found him culpable for his actions. He left office more than a year and a half into his second term on August 9th, 1974, and went into seclusion.
Known as "Tricky Dick" by his political opponents since the 1950's due to his campaigning smear tactics, he was seen as a devious character from then on. Cenedella portrays Nixon as a criminal on the witness stand as he appears to be sitting in a court room in his suit and tie holding his bowler hat with the American flag hanging in the background.