Michelle Obama, as envisaged by the Baltimore artist Amy Sherald, has gray skin.
That’s one of the characteristics of the portrait unveiled Monday in Washington’s National Portrait Gallery that has everyone talking.
Specifically, the former first lady is rendered in Sherald’s trademark “grayscale” — a light charcoal with taupe undertones — that doesn’t so much erase her subject’s race as declare its irrelevance. And both the former president and his wife couldn’t be more thrilled.
Obama is depicted seated, her hair loose around her shoulders, her chin resting on one hand. The mood is contemplative and serene. She wears a floor-length...