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Barack And Michelle Obama Portraits Revealed (Photos)

Barack And Michelle Obama Portraits Revealed (Photos) Promo Image

Portraits of former first couple Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have been revealed.

The portraits of the 44th president and first lady were unveiled on Feb. 12 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the New York Post reported.

New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama, while his wife's portrait was done by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald. The former president gave the two artists high marks.

"I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked," Barack quipped, according to CNN. "I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well."

In his portrait, Barack Obama is seated among a sea of chrysanthemums, the official flower of Chicago -- his hometown. Jasmine was added to pay homage to the former president's Hawaiian roots, along with African blue lilies as a tribute to his late father's Kenyan heritage.

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The former president also praised Sherald's work.

"Amy, I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace and beauty and the intelligence and charm and hotness of the woman that I love," he said, according to The Hill.

Michelle Obama said she "was a little overwhelmed, to say the least," after seeing her portrait. She was painted in a long, sleeveless black and white dress designed by Michelle Smith’s label, Milly.

The former first lady said she thought about the impact Sherald's art will have on "girls and girls of color."

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"They will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution," she said. "And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls."

A few celebrities were in attendance for the grand unveiling of the portraits, including director Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks. Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Chicago attorney Tina Tchen were also present.

Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, had donated to the commissioning of the Obamas' portrait. Singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen were also listed as donors.

Wiley became the first African-American artist to paint an official presidential portrait for the gallery. The Yale University-trained painter was known for his previous work depicting African-Americans in the style of Old Masters paintings.

According to the Smithsonian, Sherald is known for capturing "the inner strength of her subjects through a combination of calm expressions and confrontational poses."

The Obama portraits will join the "America’s Presidents" exhibition at the gallery and will be made public on Feb. 13.

Sources: New York Post, CNN, The Hill / Featured Image: Obama White House/Flickr / Embedded Images: Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald for the National Portrait Gallery via New York Post

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