Official Portraits for Barack and Michelle Obama Unveiled at White House

In recent decades former presidents and first ladies have had their official White House portraits unveiled by their successors. But that did not happen for the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama while Donald J. Trump was in power.

The official portraits of the Obamas were finally unveiled in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday by Mr. Trump’s successor, President Biden.

“It is great to be back,” Mr. Obama said at the ceremony, which drew many members of his administration back to the White House in what felt like a reunion.

The portraits, commissioned by the White House Historical Association, have been a well-kept secret, along with the identity of their artists: Robert McCurdy, who painted the former president, and Sharon Sprung, who painted the former first lady.

While not necessarily household names, these artists join a storied tradition of painting former first couples. Past presidents all get represented somewhere on the White House walls, though the paintings themselves move around to various rooms.

Mr. Obama praised the artists. “I want to thank Sharon Sprung for capturing everything I love about Michelle: her grace, her intelligence, and the fact that she’s fine,” he said, to cheers. “And I want to thank Robert McCurdy for taking on a much more difficult subject.”

President Biden was joined by his wife, Jill, for the formal unveiling in the East Room, where they made clear their affection for the Obamas. “Welcome home!” Mr. Biden, who had served as Mr. Obama’s vice president, told the Obama family in a warm greeting.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin

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