History | February 13, 2018 5:00 am

A Look at the National Portrait Gallery’s Presidential Portraits

Barack and Michelle Obama's portraits were revealed Feb. 12.

national portrait gallery
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand next to their newly unveiled portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The National Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution, was created by an Act of Congress in 1962 and owns the complete collection of presidential likenesses. It was opened to the public in 1968. On Tuesday, former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s likenesses were added. Painted by Kehinde Wiley, who did Barack’s, and Amy Sherald, who did Michelle’s, they are the first presidential couple of African descent to be enshrined in the collection. For well over a century, “uninflected dignity” was the attitude choice by the presidents for their portraits, writes The New York Times. We take a look back at some of the paintings below (courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution).

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait)
Abe Lincoln by George Peter Alexander Healy Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl Jimmy Carter by Robert Clark Templeton Lyndon B. Johnson by Peter Hurd Harry S. Truman by Martha Greta Kempton John Fitzgerald Kennedy by Elaine de Kooning. Ronald Reagan by Henry C. Casselli, Jr. George H.W. Bush by Ronald N. Sherr. Bill Clinton by Chuck Close
U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and first lady Laura Bush look at their official portraits after they were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery December 19, 2008 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand next to their newly unveiled portraits during a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, on February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)