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Artist surprised his fantasy painting of Trump is hanging in the White House

The canvas created a stir on social media after it was spotted during a "60 Minutes" interview with the president.
The Republican Club by Andy Thomas
The Republican ClubAndy Thomas

Donald Trump, Abraham Lincoln and Richard Nixon walk into a bar...

That's not the beginning of a bad joke, but rather the subject of a recent painting by artist Andy Thomas called "The Republican Club" that's hanging in the White House.

The image created a stir on social media after it was spotted on a wall in the White House during a "60 Minutes" interview with Trump that aired Sunday night. In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Thomas said he was shocked to see his work in the White House.

"I'd been working, and I turned on the football game," the Missouri native said, adding that after his wife saw that social media had lit up, the phone calls began pouring in.

In the painting, Trump is seen hobnobbing over drinks with past presidents of the Grand Old Party: Lincoln; both Bushes; Nixon; Teddy Roosevelt; Dwight Eisenhower; Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

The painting is part of a series Thomas created that reimagines historical figures socializing in various contexts. In 2008, he painted a picture pf past Republican presidents playing poker and another of them playing pool. He has also painted Democratic presidents playing poker and pool.

The foreground of "The Republican Club" shows a noticeably thinner version of a smiling Trump seated between Eisenhower and Nixon. Across from Trump are Lincoln, Reagan and George W. Bush while Ford, Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush are standing around the table. The seated men have drinks — Trump's is nonalcoholic — and they are all smiling.

Reprints range from $155 to $1,700, depending on size and other factors. The artist is still in possession of the original.

Thomas said he's not a member of any political party, has libertarian views and has most often voted for Republicans.

The artist told NBC News the presidents in "The Republican Club" are "story-telling" and Lincoln and Trump, in particular, are the storytellers.

"I imagine everything Lincoln said was funny, so I always want to have him being funny," he said. "There's some sort of give and take between Trump and Lincoln and everyone is in on the story."

He added: "I'm going to make them all good looking and having a really, really good time. We don't really know how they would get along. Certainly they have different personalities."

The background also has familiar faces of other Republican presidents, such as William Taft, in the club, and Thomas said all the remaining GOP presidents are included in the background. There is also a shadowy figure of a woman approaching Trump's table.

Thomas said she's intended as a message he has placed in paintings depicting both Republican and Democratic presidents that a woman will be a president one day. "Well, sure, a woman will walk up to take their place," he said.

Thomas said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who commissioned a self-portrait from him, gave a reproduction of "The Republican Club" to Trump.

Thomas said Trump called him a few weeks ago to praise the painting.

"It was a really gracious phone call and he had a kind voice," Thomas said, adding that while he knew the painting had been given to Trump, he had no idea until "60 Minutes" that he had actually hung it. "I was happily surprised it was hanging in the office there somewhere."

He added, "I suddenly felt too good to go do work out in the backyard."