The National Portrait Gallery Unveils Barack And Michelle Obama’s Official Portraits

When visitors travel to Washington, D.C. and go to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, they will be greeted by two familiar faces.

The Portrait Unveiling

On Feb. 12, Monday, former U.S. President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery for a special occasion.

This trip was to unveil the commissioned portraits of the former First Couple. To commemorate the occasion, the Smithsonian also invited the two artists that brought their visions of the former First Couple to life.

Enter Wiley And Sherald

CNN reported that the Obama Portraits were created by two African-American artists, which marks the first time that two people of color commissioned a picture of both a former U.S. President and a former First Lady.

Artist Kehinde Wiley, which former President Obama selected to paint him, decided to have the President sit down on a wooden chair surrounded by many green bushes, with a few colorful leaves sprinkled throughout the painting.

"The ability to be the first African-American painter to paint the first African-American doesn't get any better than that," said Wiley to CNN.

Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald painted former First Lady Michelle Obama. Sherald put the former First Lady in a sky-blue background. The painter also had the former First Lady in a black and white dress with pink, red, and yellow stripes painted onto the dress. Mrs. Obama was moved by the portrait and told NBC News that she hoped Sherard's painting would inspire girls of color.

"As I look at this portrait, I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm humbled, honored, proud, but most of all, I'm so incredibly grateful to all those who came before me in this journey," said Obama to NBC.

The Obamas are the latest couple to receive presidential portraits since the National Portrait Gallery commissioned artists to produce these lifelike paintings in the 1990s for President George H.W. Bush.

Social Media Reaction

When The Smithsonian unveiled the Obama Portraits, numerous people on Twitter came forward to praise the paintings and asked questions regarding the symbols in Wiley's portrait of President Obama. However, other amateur art critics found several obscure objections to the Obama Portraits.

"OMG. These paintings are not worthy of these two people. I hope they will be redone by a better artist that will capture them in a more stately and confident manner," said one Twitter user.

The Obamas' Recent Activities

While the National Portrait Gallery unveiling was the first time that the public saw both the former U.S. President and the former First Lady together this month, both Obamas have been busy with their schedules.

Mrs. Obama made her first post-White House visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She celebrated the comedian and talk show host's 60th birthday celebration.

Meanwhile, former U.S. President Obama has sat down for several high-profile interviews. Last month, he talked to David Letterman as the host's first guest on his Netflix limited series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. He also spoke with Prince Harry for a BBC Radio 4 Today special. The interview was broadcasted on Dec. 26.

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