A Donald Trump Painting Is Coming to the National Portrait Gallery
When the National Portrait Gallery reopens in the coming months, there will be a new face to greet visitors to the American Presidents’ Gallery: Donald J. Trump’s. The permanent exhibit includes a painting of every former commander in chief, so the inclusion of a Trump portrait is no surprise.
But that likeness won’t be Trump’s official portrait – the specially commissioned post-presidency paintings like Kehinde Wiley’s blockbuster portrait of Barack Obama. A spokesman for the museum says the Portrait Gallery is currently in talks with the Trumps about the early steps in this process. The entire period of time for commissioning and painting can take up to two years, as with the Obama illustration. After Obama’s painting was unveiled in 2018, along with Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama, both received rave reviews from art critics and long lines of selfie-takers.
It is worth thinking about what the atmosphere will be like at the debut of the official Trump portrait whenever possible. As with the Obama paintings, the museum is planning an unveiling ceremony for the Trump family and invited guests. (The Obamas were there in person.) When the time comes, will droves of MAGA art lovers flock to the Portrait Gallery to see the Trump faces? If so, the museum says they will be welcome. “We are a non-partisan institution and we understand that there is public opinion on both sides of the fence,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, told Washingtonian in a statement. “As with all recent presidential commissions, we cannot speculate about how visitors will receive the portraits once they are completed. That is the beauty of portrait painting: How it is perceived is always different for different people. “
There is still no word on who could actually paint the portraits. One artist likely not on the shortlist: Julian Raven, the pro-Trump painter who sued the National Portrait Gallery after rejecting one of its massive presidential paintings. (The lawsuit was later dismissed.) But Raven appears to have recently broken up with the ex-president. After storming the Capitol on January 6, Raven posted a Facebook post calling on Trump to resign.
Jane is a Chicago transplant Cleveland Park now calls her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she studied journalism and opera.