Official portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama were unveiled Wednesday at a celebratory ceremony at the White House. It is the first time since 2012 that paintings by a former presidential couple have been returned to their official residence in Washington. Traditionally, the next president does that, but Donald Trump never organized the ceremony for his predecessor Obama.
“Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” President Joe Biden said at the celebratory ceremony that, according to US media, “felt like a reunion.” It will be the first time since 2017 that the two, whom Biden called “good friends and great Americans,” are back together in the White House. Biden called it “lucky for America” that Obama has been president of the country.
The portrait of Michelle Obama was painted by Sharon Sprung. The former first lady is depicted in a light blue dress, sitting on a red sofa. The New York Times reports that it took Sprung nine months to create the portrait, then it was locked away for six years because of the belated ceremony.
Barack Obama is depicted by Robert McCurdy in a dark suit in front of a white background. The former president calls himself a “difficult subject” and thanks McCurdy for the very realistic portrait “where no gray hair goes unnoticed”.
Here are the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.
I love both portraits! What do you think? ♥️ ♥️ pic.twitter.com/LfweJArJXz
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) September 7, 2022
Michelle Obama took a more serious tone in a speech. She said “these are traditions that play a vital role in a democracy,” according to The Washington Post a “clear swipe at former President Donald Trump”.
Normally, the unveiling of the White House portraits takes place in the third year of the new president’s term. It is not yet clear whether a ceremony around a portrait of Donald Trump and his wife Melania will be held in 2024.