Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled their official portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Monday.

The former US president and his wife selected Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, for the paintings, which will be among the gallery’s collection of presidential portraits.

Wiley and Sherald were the first black artists ever commissioned to paint a president or first lady for the Smithsonian.

“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.

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair and Kehinde’s artistic integrity would not allow him to do what I asked. I tried to negotiate smaller ears – struck out on that as well.”

Michelle Obama said she hoped the portrait would have an impact on young girls of colour in the years to come.

“They will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them, hanging on the wall of this great American institution. I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives, because I was one of those girls.”

The National Portrait Gallery’s tradition of commissioning presidential portraits began with George HW Bush.



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