Feb. 12 (UPI) — The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled portraits of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obamaon Monday, which will hang in the halls of the renowned museum.
The two portraits were added to the United States’ only other complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House.
The 44th U.S. president’s portrait was created by Kehinde Wiley, a Yale University-trained painter — and Michelle Obama’s by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald.
Sherald and Wiley are the first black artists to receive a presidential portrait commission from the museum.
“How about that. Pretty sharp,” Obama said as his portrait was unveiled.
Obama joked that he had to tell Wiley to not make him “look like Napoleon” when the artist suggested he paint the former president riding a horse.
“You’ve got to bring it down a touch,” he recalled telling Wiley.
Michelle Obama said she was overwhelmed by the fact that she would be the only person in her family to have a portrait — let alone one hanging in the famous National Portrait Gallery.
“I’m also thinking of all the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who … will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution,” she said. “I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”
The exhibit featuring the Obamas’ new portraits will open Wednesday.