On Wednesday, President Joe Biden hosted Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House to reveal their official White House portraits.

The former President’s portrait was painted by Robert McCurdy, and the former First Lady’s was painted by Sharon Sprung. This reunion of sorts occurred because Donald Trump neglected to hold an unveiling for his predecessors during his term, which is the usual tradition for American presidents.

The two portraits definitely seem like they were approached by separate artists and provide an appealing contrast. Barack’s portrait shows him standing up straight against a stark-white background looking casual yet confident and assured. The lighting and painting is also more granular and realistic.

Michelle’s portrait shows her reclined, and is much more colorful with her blue dress popping beautifully against the warm tones of her seat and the background.


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During the unveiling, Barack commented that his artist McCurdy “paints people the way they are, for better for worst,” and also joked that he “refused my request to make my ears smaller. He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way.” Obama was famously criticized for wearing tan suits by rightwing talking heads.

Biden also spoke in honor of the former President, who he worked alongside for eight years as his VP.

“It’s so underestimated… just having hope. This is the gift of the Obama presidency to the country and to history,” Biden said.

The ceremony was delayed a few times because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Administration has yet to announce whether they will be restarting the tradition and doing an event for Trump’s presidential portrait, but that is rather unlikely at this point.

The Obamas have mostly been working in media and speaking since departing the White House. Their company Higher Ground recently signed a first-look deal with Audible, and Barack even won an Emmy recently for his narration of Our Great National Parks on Netfilix.

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