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Oprah Winfrey Portrait Unveiled At The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

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Photo Credit: Paul Morigi

Today, The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled a beautiful portrait of the iconic Oprah Winfrey. The nearly 7-foot-tall painting is currently on display and will remain on view until October of next year.

Winfrey, who attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C., spoke about her gratitude in receiving this prestigious honor. “In 1962, I would have been 8 years old,” she said. “I would not have heard of the creation of The National Portrait Gallery or known such a thing existed. So to stand here, on the eve of my 70th birthday, to have a portrait inducted into this historic space today, I am grateful, humbled, joyful, knowing that every breath is a gift.”

Oprah Winfrey Portrait Unveiled At The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 13: (L-R) Oprah Winfrey and artist Shawn Michael Warren pose for a photo together during Oprah Winfrey Portrait Unveiling at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on December 13, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery)

Created by Chicago-based artist Shawn Michael Warren, the oil-on-canvas painting depicts Winfrey smiling and standing in her private prayer garden at her home in Montecito, Calif., donning a purple taffeta Christian Siriano dress, which was more than appropriate due to the upcoming release of The Color Purple on Christmas day, a film that she produced alongside Stephen Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones.

Since 1994–beginning with former president George H.W. Bush–the gallery has commissioned just 35 other portraits of living subjects for its permanent collection, putting Winfrey in a rarefied class. She joins public figures such as Barack and Michelle Obama, Venus and Serena Williams, and Ava DuVernay, the latter of which was present at Wednesday’s ceremony.

Oprah Winfrey Portrait Unveiled At The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey also recited a poem that Maya Angelou wrote for her 50th birthday. “My wish for you, Is that you continue, continue, to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world, with your acts of kindness.”

She continued, concluding her speech with, “I want you to know that that is exactly what I intend to do: to continue to astonish a mean world with my acts of kindness and continue to live in the space of gratitude and move and have my being in all of that which is God.”

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