Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama’s official portraits were unveiled Monday at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
It’s a rite of passage for most former presidents, all of whom have their portraits hanging in the museum. The presentation was attended by both artists, the Obamas, National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet and David J. Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, along with celebrity guests including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
Former president Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley.
Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald.
“I’m thinking of all the girls of color who will come and see someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American Institution,” said the former US first lady. “And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”
The two artists are the first African-American artists to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to paint the official White House portraits of the President and First Lady.