The Obamas’ official White House portraits to be unveiled at Sept. 7 ceremony
Joe and Jill Biden will host the first portrait ceremony since Barack Obama presided over the unveiling of paintings of former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush in May 2012.
Former President Barack Obama and ex-first lady Michelle Obama will return to the White House on Sept. 7 for the official unveiling of their portraits, an Obama spokesperson said Thursday.
This will mark the first official portrait ceremony since Obama presided over the unveiling of the portraits of former President George W. Bush and ex-first lady Laura Bush on May 31, 2012.
On Sept. 7, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will host the Obamas when their portraits become part of the living history of the White House.
The ceremony will mark the first time Michelle Obama will be at the White House since leaving after two terms on Jan. 20, 2017. Barack Obama was at the White House in April to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Health Act, one of his signature legislative achievements as president, being signed into law.
The names of the artists have not been made public.
These new paintings are not to be confused with the two portraits of the Obamas unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in February 2018. The Obamas selected artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald for their paintings, which were paid for with private donations.
The president and first lady portraits at the White House are a project of the White House Historical Association, which, according to its website, “has had an active role in acquiring and donating portraits of recent presidents and first ladies since 1965 when the Association negotiated to acquire a portrait of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt from the widow of artist Douglas Granville Chandor.
“Since that time, it has been a goal to acquire contemporary or historic portraits of presidents and first ladies. Recent presidents and first ladies typically select their respective artists before leaving the White House and approve the portraits before their formal presentation to the public and induction into the White House Collection.”
At the 2012 unveiling, Obama said something that seems timely today, given the ongoing Jan. 6 commission probing the role of former President Donald Trump in trying to overthrow the 2020 election he lost.
Obama said, “One of the greatest strengths of our democracy is our ability to peacefully, and routinely, go through transitions of power. It speaks to the fact that we’ve always had leaders who believe in America, and everything it stands for, above all else — leaders and their families who are willing to devote their lives to the country that they love.”