The Obamas' official White House portraits were unveiled in a ceremony Wednesday in the East Room.
The history-making portraits stand in contrast to those of other US presidents and their spouses hung on the White House walls, depicting the first Black President and first lady through the perspectives of contemporary artists working outside many of the conventions of traditional political portraiture.
President Obama's image was painted by Robert McCurdy and Michelle Obama's portrait was painted by Sharon Sprung.
McCurdy told the White House Historical Association in an interview that his process focused on working off of a photograph of the former President. The photorealistic image of the former President, dressed in a black suit with a gray tie, is painted against a minimal white backdrop — a signature of McCurdy's artworks. McCurdy said his paintings take at least a year to complete.
The former first lady's portrait was painted by Sprung, who describes her work as "contemporary realism." The image depicts Michelle Obama in a blue dress, seated on a sofa in the Red Room of the White House. The artwork was painted from photographs taken in different locations on the White House's State Floor.
Here are the portraits side-by-side: