NewsWorldBarack and Michelle Obama unveil presidential portraits at White House

Barack and Michelle Obama unveil presidential portraits at White House

Barack Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, returned to the White House on Wednesday for the unveiling of their official portraits, hosted by fellow Democrat Joe Biden more than five years after the former president left office.

Artist Robert McCurdy put the grey-suited ex-president at the center of his canvas, in a photorealistic portrait with a white background that recalls previous portraits he did of Toni Morrison and Nelson Mandela.

The former first lady is pictured in a blue dress in the White House’s Red Room, in a painting by Brooklyn artist Sharon Sprung.

Large, formal portraits of U.S. presidents and first ladies adorn walls, hallways and rooms throughout the White House.

Customarily, a former president returns for the unveiling during his successor’s tenure, but Republican President Donald Trump’s administration did not hold a ceremony for the Obamas.

Trump, before winning the 2016 election and succeeding Obama, was a longtime proponent of the “birther” movement that falsely suggested Obama was not born in the United States and should not be president.

Obama thanked Biden, his vice president between 2009 and 2017, for building on the work they did together.

“Thanks to your decency and thanks to your strength, maybe most of all thanks to your faith in our democracy and the American people, the country’s better off than when you took office and we should all be deeply grateful to you for that,” Obama said.

Earlier portraits of the Obamas that were unveiled in 2018 and placed in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington have become a major tourist draw.

Biden and his wife, Jill, were close to the Obamas during the Obama presidency, as they managed their political and personal lives, including the death of Biden’s son, Beau, from cancer.

Obama has been back at the White House once since leaving office, joining Biden in April for an event to tout his signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.


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