Prop Spotlight: Potter’s Paintings


Near the end of Season Four, one of Colonel Potter’s hobbies was introduced: painting. In “The More I See You” he sets up his easel out in the open to a portrait of Radar and later, in his office, paints Klinger holding a discus (or, more accurately, a plate).

Colonel Potter Painting in The More I See You

Colonel Potter Painting in “The More I See You”

Over the next eight seasons he is seen painting numerous times, although occasionally the actual paintings are never shown. The question of who painted these paintings has intrigued M*A*S*H fans for decades. It was not actually Harry Morgan, although he obviously faked the act of painting many times. Nor was it Gary Burghoff, an accomplished wildlife artist (or, for that matter, Kellye Nakahara, an accomplished watercolor artist).

In January 1997, Larry Gelbart confirmed in a post to (the M*A*S*H Usenet group) that Burghoff was not the artist:

Potter’s paintings were not the work of Gary Burghoff. They were done by studio artisans.

Larry Gelbart

And in February 2002, he made a succinct post in response to a question about whether Harry Morgan actually painted the paintings:

>Just wondered if Harry Morgan reall DID paint them



So who did paint them? In March 1996, Michael Hirsh made the following post to about the identity of the artist responsible for the paintings:

The paintings were done by an artist hired by the MASH propmaster.

And in November 1997, Hirsch posted the following, again stating that the unidentified painter was hired by the M*A*S*H propmaster:

Leroy Nieman wouldn’t work for what the MASH propmaster would pay to have “Potter’s Paintings” painted. Getting those pictures painted was a fairly routine assignment for a Hollywood propmaster. While I don’t know who he hired, I’m reasonably certain there were any number of artists working in LA who would gladly have taken on the job.


The actual artist (or artists, as the case may be) has never been identified.

Paintings Shown On Screen

In “The More I See You,” Potter is seen working on two paintings. First, he paints a portrait of Radar holding a medical bag:

Colonel Potter's Painting of Radar from The More I See You

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Radar from “The More I See You”

Later, he paints Klinger with a discus, mid-throw:

Colonel Potter's Painting of Klinger from The More I See You

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Klinger from “The More I See You”

In “Hawkeye Get Your Gun,” Potter paints Hawkeye with his feet up on a table, holding a drink:

Colonel Potter's Painting of Hawkeye from Hawkeye Get Your Gun

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Hawkeye from “Hawkeye Get Your Gun”

In “The Winchester Tapes,” Potter paints Charles with a rather angry expression on his face (“Don’t change the color of your face, I’m out of umber!”):

Colonel Potter's Painting of Charles from The Winchester Tapes

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Charles from “The Winchester Tapes”

In “They Call the Wind Korea,” Potter paints his own thumb:

Colonel Potter's Painting of His Thumb from They Call the Wind Korea

Colonel Potter’s Painting of His Thumb from “They Call the Wind Korea”

In “Depressing News,” Potter paints Hawkeye next to his tongue depressor monument:

Colonel Potter's Painting of Hawkeye from Depressing News

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Hawkeye from “Depressing News”

In “Rumor At The Top,” Potter paints a portrait of Father Mulcahy in his Catholic finery:

Colonel Potter's Painting of Father Mulcahy from Rumor At The Top

Colonel Potter’s Painting of Father Mulcahy from “Rumor At The Top”

In “Picture This,” Potter goes to great lengths to paint a group portrait:

Colonel Potter's Painting of The Cast from Picture This

Colonel Potter’s Painting of The Cast from “Picture This”

Paintings Not Shown on Screen

In “Dear Uncle Abdul,” Potter works on a self-portrait, using Klinger atop a horse as a body double (“Suck in that nose!”), planning to work in his own face at a later date. In “Heal Thyself,” while in bed, he works on an unidentified painting. And in “Bottom’s Up” he paints a United States president.

In “War Co-Respondent,” Aggie O’Shea and Potter discuss Potter’s paintings, including an incomplete painting of Sophie and his paintings of Radar, Klinger, his thumb, and Charles. Aggie asks Potter whether he has ever done a painting of B.J., to which Potter replies that he is not too good on teeth. At the end of the episode, Aggie sends Potter a drawing of B.J.

The Paintings in Potter’s Office

As they were created, the various paintings were hung in Potter’s office. His portrait of Radar was hung on the wall behind his desk for a while. It later later seen on the wall to the left of the doors into the office, above Klinger with the discus. Later, Radar was replaced by Potter’s thumb. The painting of Charles was added to the right side of the door. Klinger with the discus was later replaced by the painting of Charles, which itself was replaced by Hawkeye and his tongue depressor monument. His portrait of Father Mulcahy was later added to the wall below Charles.

At some point, all of the paintings were removed for reasons unknown. They are not present in any of the episodes actually produced for Season 11 but can be seen in episodes that were held over from Season 10.

Where Are They Now?

The current whereabouts of the paintings is not known. They were not sent to the Smithsonian in July 1983 for used in the “Binding Up the Wounds” exhibit (read more about the exhibit here). It is possible they were given to members of the cast or crew once production ended. None are known to have been auctioned off.

Published on March 14th, 2012
Last updated November 10th, 2013


83 Replies to “Prop Spotlight: Potter’s Paintings”

  1. The one where klinger is throwing the disscus he said “I think I’ll call this one, Greek Athelete.” this is the one where he asked klinger if he was a little cold because his skin was blue, and he told klinger a little more latissamis, his back. His at ease pose what the thinker. So Potter got just about all the different greek poses. hehehe
    Its a great life when all you have to do is watch episodes of MASH

    1. Dear, Tim. Yes, it is! M*A*S*H is still on the air here in Australia and I’m
      Watching the show as I type. The mystery of who painted them will perhaps never be known. Why? The Artisans or Artist would receive a ton of kudos and perhaps many dollar$. Where? Are they (The paintings) now, again big dollars. Sell them before the current generations remember.

  2. You are missing one though, When Potter had the mumps and was painting in bed. We didnt get to see that painting either.

  3. Not sure if this counts or not, but in one early Season Seven episode (not sure which one), Margaret goes on yet another one of her rants about Donald: Potter’s gathering his painting things, sees Margaret through the window, then rushes to beat it outside before she can come into his office, which she ends up doing in unrealistically quick timing.

    POTTER: Not now Major, I want to get out there and paint that sunset.
    MARGARET: It’s only 4:00 in the afternoon.
    POTTER: I like to paint in the sky first.

  4. Ok I know it’s not a Potter original, but how about the painting of BJ with a life preserver round his waist painted by Aggie O’shea ?

  5. I cant believe the artist were unknown. I would have been proud to have painted a picture that showed on the TV show MASH and Everybody would have known I did that.

  6. I was about to say that many of the paintings make a reappearance in an episode of After MASH. It was in the episode called ‘Chief of Staff’ where most of the contents of Colonel Potter’s office arrive from Korea. But when I took a closer look, it was obvious that they were all reproductions. The painting of Father Mulcahy looks nothing like the original. And in the painting of Radar, he’s holding his teddy bear instead of a medical bag.

  7. Being a huge fan of MASH, I am very lucky to be in possession of one of the famed “Potter’s Paintings”. I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. The painting I have is Hawkeye Get Your Gun, that particular episode is one of my favorites. Being an avid fan of MASH I pounced at the chance to own the painting. It is one of my most prized possessions. My whole family watched the show religiously and I have very fond memories of our time spent together watching the show. I was very sad when the series ended, like every other fan of the show, I am sure. The series ended the year I graduated from high school, and there is even a reference to it in my High School year book. So, the show and the painting hold a special place in my heart. It’s nice to see there are other big fans of the show even though it has been almost 30 years since the last episode aired.

      1. I don’t know how much truth there is to this (it sounds like there’s quite a bit of mystery that shrouds these paintings!), but I think it might have been a rare eBay auction. A cursory Google search regarding the paintings brought me to another site where someone asked the same question, and they only mentioned that the painting with Hawkeye with his feet on the desk (the one M*I*K*E says he owns) was briefly up on the site. I feel like there probably would have been tons of commotion about it if it was really ever on eBay, but then again the details (from ostensibly separate sources) seem to match up. If the auction was one of those that kind of get sucked into the large space of eBay, it could absolutely be a ‘right place, right time’ sort of thing if he happened to submit a search for it when it was up. Anyway, congrats M*I*K*E for being able to own a much sought-after piece of history!

    1. M*I*K*E,
      congratulations to your success in getting one of those paintings.
      Do you have any idea how to get to any other one of them?
      Thank you

    2. Hi M*I*K*E,

      Any chance you’d post a higher res picture of it for us? Not a scan to allow others to create fakes, just a shot good enough for a fan to print and hang in his office 🙂


    3. I have hunted and hunted for this painting. I had forgotten about it for years and one day it bubbled to the top of my brain and I started laughing and the hunt was on. This must have been before your reply or perhaps before this web site. At this point I would settle for a reproduction. Anyway, this painting for some reason or other, has stuck with me vividly for I guess more than 35 (??) years.

    4. I realize that you posted this 10 years ago but I just found this web site. Life, family and work make it nearly impossible for me to deep dive any of my interests. I too, am a huge fan of the show. Having seen every episode more times than I can count, and still I watch LOL. I was 2 years old when the show 1st aired in 1972 and at 13 was still to young to appreciate the show and the magnitude of the final episode….at the time. It is a goal of mine to one day, make a trip to Malibu State Park in CA. to visit the exterior filming site. It’s funny that even my kids know the theme song to the show. I appreciated the story about you and your family, I have the same memories of sitting around the tv on Thursday nights and watching the Cosby Show and Family Ties. Ahhh….good times! If you ever consider selling the painting, please let me know, it would go to a good home. Thanks for listening.

  8. Hello all… I have been perusing the net in search of the replicas of these paintings.. does anyknow where I may procure them … or will I have to hire someone to paint them?? Thank you for your time.

  9. Im painting them for myself, lll post pics when im done if you want the original ill sell it to you, or if you just want a copy ill send you one. I paint for a profession so these shouldn’t take me too long to finish up.

    1. GFA was filmed in October 1982 during production of Season Eleven. I just checked and you are correct, at least some of the paintings can be seen in Potter’s office during the episode. But I did not seen the paintings in any of the other Season Eleven episodes when I was working on this spotlight.

  10. That guy Mike, that posted he got one of the paintings. That is very hard to believe. First of all, he didn’t bother posting a photo of it somewhere to prove it. Second of all, nobody else has ever seen one “out there”, so I think he is full of it.

  11. I don’t know the present whereabouts – sure wish I did – of the painting of Colonel Potter’s thumb, but I do know the artist was Robert A. Woolfe. Bob, a native of New England, was a veteran Hollywood studio artist and continued to paint until shortly before his death. He died November 1, 2004 at the age of 84.

    1. I must say I was a bit disappointed to find out that Harry Morgan didn’t paint them. I was under the (mistaken) impression that he was a painter in his own right. As for copies, I’m sure they’re available on line…somewhere. Everything else is.

  12. in several episodes of “M*A*S*H” (1972), Col. Potter was seen painting portraits, mainly of the other characters. These portraits were actually painted by Morgan. imdb

  13. Anyone know where to get at least good replicas of col. Potters paintings? (particularly Hawkeye or the thumb)

  14. I have a painting that was told to me, was a gift from Harry Morgan, that he had painted it. It was a scene along the Lakeshore. the person who told me he was the painter was his daughter in law at that time. Has anyone heard of him painting off of MASH?

  15. Am I the only person who thinks the Potter thumb picture looks disturbingly like it’s a self portrait of Col Potter’s penis whenever I watch episodes with it in?

  16. Wow, I was just looking around for info on the Potter Paintings… and here it says nobody knows where they are?

    I’m from Holland and am watching from the series daily (stored on my NAS).
    I love it. And after once again watching the episode in which Potter paints a picture of the entire staff the other day I started wondering if I would ever get the opportunity to own one of these paintings. Or even a repro would be great, but if the paintings are lost… even that seems to be a fruitless wish. I’m so sad…

  17. The wife and I own the complete series and we watch several episodes each night before bed and when we end we just start from the begining again. I’ve lost
    count how many times we’ve gone through and it never gets old, we love them all.

  18. MASH was around well before my time, yet I have the complete set and watch it just about everyday. every arvo when growing up would make sure I was home to watch is . Pretty sure it has had a massive impact on my life, I even went to a themed party dressed as Hawkeye, robe and all.
    I’m have just been lucky enough to be given numerous original photo prints with editors marks for cropping and promotional/press use. One is signed by Loretta Swit, and I believe one is signed by Alan Alda. Plus was given a 1982 copyright commemorative printed dish.
    If any info ever pops up about any of these paintings, I would very much be interested. Have been looking around for a while and can find nothing.

  19. Ive been watching mash ever since i was a kid and it was on its first run before syndication. I cant tell you how many times ive watched each and every episode and yet i still get a good laugh when i watch them to this day. Luckily, thanks to modern technology i have the entire series downloaded and i can watch it any time and any place. I would love to find out anything about the paintings in potters office. If anyone should learn of the whereabouts of any of these paintings, please share the info with the rest of us fans!
    May the show continue to live on in infamy.

  20. All the paintings would by property of the studio or network that produced the show and they are all probably in storage at a studio warehouse somewhere. I can confirm that my dad did the thumb. The rest were most likely done by various studio artists.

  21. The U.S. President Potter was painting in “Bottoms Up” was Theodore Roosevelt. I know this because Potter said he put too much red in Roosevelt’s cheeks.

  22. Let’s suppose I have the original on-air Radar painting right in front of me…what would be the proper course of action at this time?

      1. Yes Please. If do really have one I’m am more than interested.
        To an avid fan anywhere in the world in which M*A*S*H has aired
        and that’s a big list big Dollar$.

    1. If you did then you would have to go to an art Gallery and they would contact someone who can authenticate it. I doubt it would bring a lot of money but maybe a few thousand at an Art Auction.

  23. My guess is whoever painted this people was under appreciated and one of the “invisible people” that big stars depend on.

  24. I would love to find these paintings. They are beautiful. While watching MASH, I often find myself admiring these paintings more so than actually watching the show. I was always so frustrated when they didn’t show the other paintings. I have spent time looking for the true artist for these paintings. I always felt it was sad that they never got the recognition the deserve. I believe these paintings should be in a museum. I of course would love one but I doubt it will happen. I just wish they preserved this paintings a little better.

  25. To anyone who owns a painting I am probably the biggest fan of the show ever. Would love to have an opportunity to acquire one of them. Hope someone out there realises how much something like this would mean to me. Thank you, take care.

      1. Wow! That’s such a cool find! You got to meet Bill Christopher? May I ask if he was as nice in real life as he was on the show? He’s my favorite actor on the series! Would have loved to write him, but he passed before I even watched the show. 🙁

      2. I am literally watching the episode with Potter painting Radar(while he does his turtle impression)and Klinger with the diskis.Decided to look up who actually did the paintings and landed here.I miss my old t shirt I had that came out just after the series finale.The Mash 4077 Goodbye, Farewell and Amen shirt.I loved that thing.

  26. Dear Friend:

    I would certainly be interested in acquiring the Charles picture and we can certainly discuss the cost. Thank you very much.

  27. I heard tell that there was a fire on the set and most of the paintings were destroyed in that fire I just heard this from someone I do not know if it is true just wanted to let you know that’s what I heard.

    1. Hi Cindy I know that fire was a constant worry on TV and Movie Sets I remember when “Wall Street” (That was the area that they stored props pics and such )Burned down at Universal Studios and a Lot of ” Night Gallery” Pictures and a lot of other non replaceable items were Were Destroyed back in the early eighties I used to work with Universal when He was on display and I was so glad that it was placed over water so it couldn’t Possibly Burn Later Jake P

  28. I have a painting of the Seine with the Eifel Tower in the background painted by H Morgan. can you tell me if Harry Morgam could have painted it ?

    1. NO Harry Morgan did not paint any of the paintings. They were painted by a prop artist hired by the producers.

  29. Now that that’s settled — Harry Morgan did NOT paint Col Potter’s paintings– lets look at the next rumor — Did Harry Morgan paint J.J ‘s paintings on “Good Times”?

  30. My husband and I are very interested in finding the painting in the episode “Picture This” where its the 6 of them in one painting. If anyone knows please message.

    1. The Teddy Roosevelt painting was in “Bottoms Up”. In “Heal Thyself”, Potter painted a horse with a live-in model as a hindquarters in the form of Winchester.

  31. This is awesome. I just stumbled in here. I had no idea there were still so many dedicated fans out there. This series was a significant part of my youth. I only have 5 seasons on DVD but watch them in a continuous loop when nothing else is on TV (which quite a lot of the time these days). Watching “They Call the Wind Korea as I type this.

    1. Welcome, Mark! This site is awesome, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it! Let me introduce myself…
      My name is JocularityGirl, I’m eighteen and I live in Texas.
      My username is based on Father Mulcahy’s catchphrase, because he’s my favorite character and William Christopher is my favorite actor on the show.
      My favorite episodes are “Nurse Doctor”, “Movie Tonight”, “A War for all Seasons” and any of the episodes with the hilarious Colonel Flagg!
      Just wanted to say hello and welcome!

  32. It would be wonderful idea to make prints for fans to own. Too bad the artist didn’t get credit. Still enjoy the show as much as ever.

  33. I just found this site! Sitting here watching M.A.S.H. 48-hr Marathon on Sundance Channel, my normal Sunday routine.
    I would have loved to own the painting of the cast together. I think it would have gone for a pretty good price, which considering the actual artist probably only got whatever scale was back then, it’s probably unfair.
    I was in Chicago on business the night the last show aired. I have never cut a business dinner short before, but I did that night. I got back to my hotel room just in time for the opening credits, thank goodness! I also had messages from my mother, daughter, ex-husband and secretary, reminding that the show was coming on and an hour earlier, Central Time. So funny that they knew I’d be crushed if I missed it!

  34. Amazing work. Now if only I could find either the Hawkeye Get Your Gun or Depressing News paintings for my office.

  35. I believe whoever has any of the paintings should donate them to the Smithsonian Institution. They could get huge tax deductions.

  36. I’m seeing a lot of people claiming or implying they have one or more paintings, but no-one seems interested in providing proof, let alone post a high-res picture to help other people out that just want a repro.
    Even for a good scan you could probably ask ten or twenty dollars.
    Though I doubt that an actual painting would fetch anywhere near the prices people seem to think they would.

    at least has a link to a high-res scan of the group painting. Though you have to register with the website to be able to download it.
    It’s a free sign-up, without cc credentials. Though they do ask a lot of address stuff. Just fake it.

  38. Not sure if this was covered before, but I seem to recall an episode where a group portrait was being created, but the crew was constantly bickering. At the end of the episode, the portrait was revealed with everyone at ease and in loving harmony with each other. It was a touching scene created in Potter’s mind’s eye of the group. My description is not adequate to the feeling it conveyed.

  39. not sure why my links won’t post but I used AI to render high resolution interpretations of 5 of the paintings that anyone can use:

    “Hawkeye Get Your Gun” – Hawkeye
    “The More I See you” – Radar O’Reilly
    “Picture This” – group portrait
    “Rumor at the Top” – Father Mulcahy
    “The Winchester Tapes – Major Winchester

    email me for a link at maghorror -at- pm -dot- me

  40. Six of the paintings were given to one person , along with BJ’s wooden foot locker
    They are kept in a safe

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