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The Obamas’ White House Presidential Portraits Revealed

National

Former President Barack Obama kisses his wife former first lady Michelle Obama after they unveiled their official White House portraits during a ceremony for the unveiling in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Washington. | Image by Andrew Harnik/AP

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Barack and Michelle Obama returned to the White House on Wednesday to unveil their official White House portraits in a ceremony with the Bidens.

The paintings and even the artists behind them had been a guarded secret for the past six years as they awaited their presentation as part of the presidential portrait collection.

The White House shared images of the paintings in their new home, tweeting that “From this day forward, the official portraits of former President Obama and former First Lady Obama will now display on the walls of the White House – the People’s House – forever.”

Obama’s portrait shows the former president standing, hands in his pockets, in front of a sharp white background. Wearing a black suit with a light grey tie, the only adornment in the work is an American flag lapel pin.

The painting was done by Robert McCurdy, who has gained distinction in the artistic community for his hyper-realistic and dramatic portraits.

Obama selected McCurdy because of his style.

“Presidents so often get airbrushed, they even take on a mythical status,” he said. “But what you realize when you’re sitting behind that desk — and what I want people to remember about Michelle and me — is that presidents and first ladies are human beings like everyone else.”

This painting is remarkably different from the one presented to the National Portrait Gallery. That image renders a tieless Obama seated in front of a wall of foliage with symbolic flowers like chrysanthemums and African blue lilies dotting the background.

Mrs. Obama’s painting for the White House wall shows her wearing a blue dress while seated on a red couch in front of a pink background. Artist Sharon Sprung applied her skill to capture the portrait.

The White House portraits were provided for by the White House Historical Association. Starting in 1965, the association began funding the creation of official portraits of the presidents and their first ladies.

The association explained that the “artists aim to capture each unique appearance and personality, piecing together our presidential history through these individual works of art.”

The Obama paintings were completed in 2018. Some have questioned why Obama’s portrait was not unveiled during Donald Trump’s administration, as recent custom held that the predecessor’s painting was presented during the immediate successor’s first term.

However, Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Society, explained, “There’s not a prescribed way to do it or time to do it.” He noted, “It’s purely a modern thing that they’re doing these reveal events, and they vary from time to time.”

It is unknown when the White House Historical Association portraits of former President Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump will be finished or presented.    

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Ran
Ran
25 days ago

Destroyers of America and the Western World. Same as Bush and Clinton’s.

Get Real
Get Real
Reply to  Ran
25 days ago

Then please do us a favor and move somewhere else.

Anna Salerno
Anna Salerno
25 days ago

Both of these portraits are tacky just like barry and mooch! Ugh 😩 the Obama’s are criminals just like the Biden’s are!

A K
A K
24 days ago

It’s a bit disingenuous to say the portraits have been “guarded secrets for the past six years” without mentioning that Trump threw tradition out and simply didn’t hold the ceremony.