The battle over Confederate-era art continues to wage on throughout the nation. Last week, Texas’s lieutenant governor Dan Patrick announced the appointment of a special committee to “review the history and procedures for the placement of art and other decor” in the state’s Senate Chamber.

Comprised of four Republican senators and three Democrats, the committee will weigh in on multiple paintings of Confederate figures currently hanging in the Texas state capitol, including artworks memorializing Confederate general Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The latter painting hangs right beside the presiding officer’s desk in the Chamber. 

Patrick, a former radio broadcaster-turned Trump-supporting Republican politician, occupies the second-highest executive office in Texas politics as Senate president. The committee, for him, is the realization of a promise made during a hotly contested meeting in May wherein Republican state senator Brandon Creighton introduced a bill to prevent city governments from removing Confederate monuments from public property, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The presiding officer's desk in the Texas senate, flanked by paintings of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy [left] and John H. reagan, postmaster general of the Confederacy. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The presiding officer’s desk in the Texas senate, flanked by paintings of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy [left] and John H. Reagan, postmaster general of the Confederacy. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

After four hours of debate, Creighton’s bill passed on party lines in the Senate before it died on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives.

“Our history is part of who we are and part of the story of Texas, but history is never just one person’s account,” Creighton said, introducing the bill. “We’ve seen a trend across the nation and the world where controversial monuments are removed and destroyed. I fear that we’ll look back and regret that this was a period where deleting history was more important than learning from it.”

Bronze Plaque containing the "Children of the Confederacy Creed". Located on the 1st floor of the Texas State Capitol. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Bronze Plaque containing the “Children of the Confederacy Creed”. Located on the 1st floor of the Texas State Capitol. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last year, the same group of lawmakers debated the fate of a Confederate plaque in the state capitol, first hung at the height of the civil rights era in 1959, which claimed that slavery had not been the cause of the Civil War (“the War Between the States was not a rebellion nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery”). After protracted debates that played out both in the capital and the press, the plaque was finally removed in January. 

Though the committee to review art in the Senate chamber was included as a stipulation in Creighton’s failed bill in May, Patrick nonetheless vowed to make it a reality. Detractors characterize it as more of an empty symbolic gesture than one meant to incur real change. A date has not yet been set for the committee’s first meeting.

Lieutenant governor Patrick’s office did not respond to Artnet’s request for comment. 

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