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Portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama revealed

Because Trump skipped the presentation of the official presidential portrait of his predecessor, the ritual will be made up for. / Portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama revealed

Barack Obama exudes a touch of light-heartedness. / Portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama revealed

Former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have unveiled their official portraits at the White House. The Obamas returned to the home where they had lived for eight years with their daughters Sasha and Malia for a day for the ceremonial display of the paintings on Wednesday.

“It’s great to be back,” said Barack Obama, who served as the first black president in US history from 2009 to 2017. It was his second visit to the White House since leaving office, and his wife Michelle was there for the first time since 2017.

The tradition / Portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama revealed

The portraits of former presidents and first ladies are traditionally displayed at the US government headquarters. Usually, the respective incumbent holds a ceremony to present the portrait of his predecessor. Former Republican President Donald Trump, who succeeded Democrat Obama in 2017, broke with this tradition, as well as many other conventions.

As a result, the presentation of the Obama portraits took place with a delay – now with Joe Biden as the host, who was his vice president during Obama’s presidency and now sits in the Oval Office himself.

“Welcome home,” Biden said to his ex-boss and his wife. “You will be considered one of the most important Presidents in history, along with one of the most important First Ladies.” Both would have filled their roles with a lot of “grace and class”.

Biden said that their two families grew close together during their years in government. He praised Obama’s leadership as president: “We trusted him (…), we believed in him, we relied on him. And I still do.”

“Will try not to trash the house”

The invited guests received the Obamas with much applause. “Thanks for letting us invite some friends to the White House,” the ex-president said to the Bidens. “We’ll try not to trash the house.” Amid an otherwise tense political situation in the country, Barack Obama tried to spread a good mood. The 61-year-old joked a lot and elicited a few laughs from the guests.

When he is asked what he misses most from back then, he doesn’t talk about the government aircraft Air Force One, Obama said – “although I do miss Air Force One”. Above all, he missed the many “talented, selfless, idealistic and good people” with whom he had worked in government.

He is pleased that many of them have started their own families. “I’m just a little disappointed I haven’t heard of anyone naming their kid Barack — or Michelle.”

The pictures

Barack Obama’s portrait, painted by Robert McCurdy, shows the now 61-year-old photo-realistically in a dark suit and gray tie in front of a light background. “What I love about Robert’s work is that he paints people exactly as they are. For better or for worse,” Obama joked of his portrait, making his audience laugh.

“He captures every line on your face, every crease in your shirt. You will notice that he refused to hide my gray hair. And refused my request to make my ears smaller.”

Paintings made from photos

McCurdy made the painting based on photos he took of Obama. According to the White House, he spends more than a year on each hyper-realistic work that aims for absolute neutrality. McCurdy painted Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Muhammad Ali, among others.

Michelle Obama was portrayed by painter Sharon Sprung in a classic pose, seated on a red sofa, wearing a light blue dress. “I’m thrilled that this extraordinary work will forever be enshrined as part of our nation’s history,” Obama commented, noting that the New York native is now one of the small group of painters to have created a portrait for the White House .

Where are the paintings exhibited?

Obama’s portrait will be on display in the main foyer of the White House, where paintings of other former presidents will also be on display. The portraits of Clinton and George W. Bush are currently hanging there.

The portrait of Michelle Obama will be displayed along with pictures of the other former first ladies on the first floor of the White House, including Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

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