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'I am humbled': Barack and Michelle Obama's official portraits unveiled at Portrait Gallery

The gallery in Washington has a complete collection of presidential portraits.

[image alt="Obama Portrait" src="http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2018/02/obama-portrait-3-296x197.jpg" width="296" height="197" credit-source="Andrew%20Harnik" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="Former%20President%20Barack%20Obama%2C%20left%2C%20speaks%20at%20the%20unveiling%20ceremony%20of%20the%20portraits%20" class="alignnone" /end]

THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT Gallery in Washington has unveiled portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, both painted by African-American artists who were personally chosen by the Obamas.

The portraits were unveiled to the public this afternoon at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums. The gallery has a complete collection of presidential portraits.

A second and different set of portraits of the former first couple will eventually hang in the White House.

Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley – an artist best known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African-Americans.

For Michelle Obama’s portrait, the gallery commissioned Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald, first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

[image alt="Obama Portrait" src="http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2018/02/obama-portrait-4-296x197.jpg" width="296" height="197" credit-source="Andrew%20Harnik" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="Michelle%20Obama's%20official%20portrait%20" class="alignnone" /end]

“I am humbled. I am proud, but most of all I am grateful for all the people that came before me in this journey,” Michelle Obama said, speaking at the event.

Speaking shortly after his wife, citing the work Wiley does in relation to African-American portraits, Barack Obama said: “Kehinde lifted the unseen up. He gave them a platform and told them they belonged.”

The portraits will be officially installed and available for public viewing starting on 13 February.

National Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet explained the process of the portrait creation: “Every portrait commission has four people: the sitter, the artist, the patron and most importantly, the view.”

With reporting by Associated Press. 

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