A bit of levity at the White House: Obama’s painting unveiled

As Trump skipped the presentation of his predecessor’s official presidential portrait, the ritual would be done for. In otherwise tense times, Obama has a soft demeanor.

Former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits at the White House. The Obamas returned to their home where they had lived for eight years with their daughters Sasha and Malia for the day for an official exhibition of paintings. Barack Obama, who served as the first black president in American history from 2009 to 2017, said, “It’s great to be back.” It was his second visit to the White House since leaving office, and his wife Michelle was there for the first time since 2017.

tradition dies

Portraits of former presidents and first ladies are traditionally displayed at the seat of the US government. Usually, the officer concerned organizes a ceremony to present the portrait of his predecessor. Former Republican President Donald Trump, who replaced Democrat Obama in 2017, broke that tradition along with several other conventions. As a result, the presentation of Obama’s portraits has been delayed – now with Joe Biden as host, who was his vice president during Obama’s presidency and now sits in the Oval Office himself.

“Welcome home,” Biden told his former boss and his wife. “You will be considered one of the most important first ladies as well as one of the most important presidents in history.” Both had to fulfill their role with a lot of “grace and class”. Biden said his two families grew up together during his years in government. He praised Obama’s leadership as president: “We trusted him (…), we believed in him, we trusted him. And I still do.


Guests greeted Obama with loud applause. “Thank you for inviting us friends to the White House,” the former president told Bidens. “We will try not to ransack the house.” Amid the otherwise tense political situation in the country, Barack Obama tried to inject some good humor. The 61-year-old joked a lot and made guests laugh – and a little more excitement than usual for the usual White House appointment.

When asked what he missed most at the time, Obama said he didn’t mention the state-run Air Force One – “although I do miss Air Force One “. Above all, he remembered the many “talented, selfless, idealistic and good people” with whom he had worked in government. It is fortunate that many of them have started their own families. “I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t heard anyone name their baby Barack – or Michelle.”


Barack Obama visited the White House as a guest in April for the first time since leaving office. Now followed the second visit to the pictures. The portrait of Barack Obama, painted by Robert McCurdy, shows the photorealistic former president in a dark suit and gray tie against a light background. “What I love about Robert’s work is that he portrays people exactly as they are,” Obama said of his portrait. “It catches every line in your face, every crease in your shirt. You will see that he refused to hide my gray hair. And refused my request to cut off my ears.

Michelle Obama was portrayed in a classic pose by painter Sharon Sprung. In a light blue dress, sitting on a red couch. Michelle Obama said, “I am thrilled that this extraordinary feat will be etched forever in our nation’s history. He pointed out that New York artist Sprung is now one of a small group of painters who have created a portrait for the White House.


About Catharine C. Bean

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