Former US President Barack Obama turned on the charm at the recent unveiling of new presidential portraits.
The new official presidential portraits of Obama and his wife, former First Lady Michelle, were shown for the first time at National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Monday.
Michelle’s portrait, which was painted by Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, took Obama’s breath away.
It depicts a sitting Michelle wearing a striking white dress by designer Michelle Smith.
“I want to thank you for so spectacularly capturing the grace, and beauty, and intelligence, and charm… and hotness, of the woman that I love,” Obama said, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Smoooooth.
Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley, a New York-based artist best known for large paintings of African Americans as famous figures of predominantly white Western art.
For this painting, Wiley reportedly wanted to paint Obama on a throne, holding a sceptre or riding a horse. Can you imagine what the Nutty Alt Right would have said? So could Obama.
“I had to explain that I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon!” he told the painter.
Obama also wanted less grey hair and smaller ears, but you can’t get everything you want. The painter wouldn’t budge on these details.
The resulting portrait shows Obama sitting amongst some foliage. The artist says that the plants chart Obama’s path on Earth and create a “fight” to see who will be the “star of the show”.
Naturally, Twitter is already having a bit of fun with Obama’s portrait.
The National Portrait Gallery began to acquire portraits of American presidents in 1962 and was first opened to the public in 1968.
In 1994, the museum began to commission portraits of presidents starting with George H W Bush. Portraits of the First Lady began later, commencing with Hillary Clinton in 2006. Wiley and Sherald are the first African American artists to paint portraits for The National Portrait Gallery.