This morning, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. unveiled its newly commissioned paintings of Barack and Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively.
Wiley’s depicts the former president seated in a garden-like environment, surrounded by greenery and flowers. The plants carry a certain symbolism: chrysanthemums are the official flower of Chicago, where Obama went to law school and became a politician; jasmine refers to Hawaii, where he spent much of his childhood; and African blue lilies allude to his father, who was Kenyan.
Sherald’s portrait of Michelle shows her posed against a light blue background, with her white dress flowing out around her. The dress depicted in the painting was designed by Michelle Smith’s label, Milly.