Politics

Portrait Of Obama Goes Viral (Photo)

| by Michael Doherty

A portrait of former President Barack Obama went viral online, with users believing it was his official presidential portrait.

In fact, the painting was done by Amsterdam-based portrait artist Edwin van den Dikkenberg, and is not Obama's official portrait to be hung in the White House's honor gallery, NL Times reports.

A Facebook user posted an image of the painting  on June 10 with the caption, "The official White House portrait of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama."

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Commenters had mixed opinions on the piece.

"I will make a full blown copy of this wonderful picture," wrote one commenter. "He wasn't just a black president. Powerful and handsome. I do not use the word handsome for any man."

"That's a terrible painting," posted another user. "The suit doesn't fit. The tie is too long. He's dressed like a high school NBA draft pick that got his stuff from Goodwill. Disrespectful. And I don't even like the man."

Others were shocked by the former president's suit in the image. Obama had come under fire in 2014 for wearing a tan suit, as he does in what the users thought was his presidential portrait, according to BuzzFeed.

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"White folks and Republicans were PISSED when he wore this suit and now it's cemented in history forever," wrote one user on Twitter. "ICONIC."

"Wait... in the tan suit???" asked another. "Epic troll."

"My grandma gonna put this picture up in her dining room right next to MLK Jr. and Jesus," commented another.

A spokesperson for Obama confirmed that the painting is not the former president's official White House portrait.

The user who posted the image to Twitter said he took "no credit" for people believing that the portrait was official, as he had seen the painting on Facebook initially. "No confirmation if this will hang in the White House," he wrote in a later tweet, "but it will be in my grandmother's living room."

Van den Dikkenberg said he had "no idea about the fuss," and that the portrait had been "purely meant to be a sort of advertisement for my own work."

"I opened my mailbox on Sunday night and was flooded with messages from the United States," said the professional portrait artist. "I turned out to be a trending topic."

"Why my painting was seen as the official portrait, I don't know," he added. "If Obama personally gave me the order to capture his likeness on canvas, I would've jumped two meters into the air. But that is not the case."

He even said he was unaware of the controversy surrounding Obama's tan suit.

"I prefer to paint people live, but it was not possible in this case. So I based my painting on a photo. On it he wore a blue suit, but I found it a boring color," said Van den Dikkenberg. "The choice for beige was purely from an artistic point of view."

Sources: NL Times, BuzzFeed / Photo credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr, Edwin van den Dikkenberg via BuzzFeed

Should this painting be used as Obama's official portrait?
Yes - 35%
Yes - 65%