After warm reception at unveiling ceremony, new Obama portraits draw mixed reviews

Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama returned to the White House this week for the long-awaited unveiling of their official presidential portraits.

The portraits, which will hang in the White House among portraits of the other former US presidents, would have been unveiled during the Trump administration. The ceremony was pushed off by the former president, breaking a 40-year tradition, for reasons still unclear.

On Wednesday, the Obamas were finally able to publicly unveil their portraits in a laughter-filled ceremony at the White House.

President Obama’s portrait was painted by Robert McCurdy, and features the 44th president in a photorealistic style, in front of a plain white background. Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Sharon Sprung, and depicts the former first lady seated on a sofa in the White House’s Red Room.

While the portraits received a long standing ovation at the unveiling ceremony, they have met with mixed reviews online, according to the New York Post.

One Twitter commenter wrote, “The portraits capture the deep beauty, intelligence, and hope of @POTUS44 and Flotus @MichelleObama. The stark contrast of just President Obama against a bare white background symbolizes as much as anything could the meaning of his presence and position in the White House.” 

Others were not fans of the photorealism and stark white background in Obama’s portrait. “I don’t like it when a painted portrait tries to be a photograph. I wish there had been more imagination in it,” wrote another commenter.

McCurdy, the artist, told the White House Historical Association his works typically take about a year to complete.




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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