The following is reprinted from Faces of the Naval War College by John B. Hattendorf
In 1935, the Navy Department agreed to name the College’s previously unnamed library building in honor of Mahan. With the addition of a large reading room in 1938, the only thing that was lacking was a portrait of Mahan to be the focal point of the Rotunda. In 1939, the president of the College Rear Admiral Charles Snyder started a subscription campaign to fund the portrait. Following the observance of the centenary of Mahan’s birth in September 1940, Snyder’s successor, Rear Admiral Edward Kalbfus, made a direct appeal to the nearly 1,400 living graduates of the College, asking each to contribute one dollar.
The appeal to graduates was successful and the College commissioned the artist Alexander James (1890 – 1946), the son of Harvard philosophy professor William James and nephew of the novelist Henry James, to do the portrait. James used photographs of Mahan and a specially made rear admiral’s uniform from the 1906 period to paint the work.