Nearly a year after former President Donald Trump left office, portraits of him and former first lady Melania Trump are closer to appearing at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the museum said Wednesday.
National Portrait Gallery spokesperson Concetta Duncan confirmed to Washingtonian that the museum has commissioned portraits of Trump and the former first lady. Duncan declined to share additional details, such as the timeline for completion.
The National Portrait Gallery has a complete collection of United States presidents in its ongoing “America’s Presidents” exhibition. Since the 1990s, the museum has worked with the White House to commission a portrait toward the end of a president’s term to display in the exhibition, according to the museum’s website.
During the commissioning process, the museum generally shows the president and first lady the list of artists under consideration, the website says. Then the president typically sits with the artist twice, according to the museum.
The museum began commissioning portraits of first ladies beginning with Hillary Clinton.
For the portraits of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the National Portrait Gallery announced the commissions the fall after Obama left office and unveiled and installed them early the following year. The works, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, are now touring the US.
Robert Anderson, who has painted former President George W. Bush multiple times, including for “America’s Presidents,” said the artistic process took around two years to complete.
During the process, Anderson and Bush toured the National Portrait Gallery, during which Bush told him, “I want you to feel free to do what you like, but I don’t want my portrait to be the largest one in the gallery,” Anderson recalled to Washingtonian.
Participating in the exhibition is a high honor for an American portrait artist, Anderson said.
“It was pretty heavy stuff,” Anderson said. “Early in my career, if someone said, ‘What would be the most significant opportunity for you as a portrait painter in this country to aspire to,’ I think that would be the one.”
The “America’s Presidents” exhibition currently displays a photograph of Trump in the Oval Office, which Duncan said will be on view until the museum unveils the portrait. Pari Dukovic took the photo for Time in 2019.