Social media users were shocked when it was rapidly pointed out that what appeared to be a sixth finger was painted into the official portrait of former President Barack Obama.
The portrait, done by artist Kehinde Wiley, is set to hang in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and shows the former president sitting in a chair bounded by greenery and bright flowers.
People were quick to notice, however, that it seemed to show his hand with a sixth finger tucked underneath his palm.
“What’s extra weird: Obama has an extra finger growing beneath his pinky on his left hand,” one Twitter user pointed out, the Daily Mail reported.
“Serious Question – why does Obama have the appearance of a 6th finger?? Mistake? Or something else??” another tweeted.
“Why does Obama have an extra finger tucked behind his others?” another questioned.
Both Barack Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, were present when the portraits were revealed, and apparently spoke to the process of being interviewed prior to the creation of the artwork. The former president also joked about his portrait during the ceremony.
“I tried to negotiate less gray hair, smaller ears,” he said, Time reported.
“Maybe the one are where there were some concessions … his initial impulse may be in the work may be to elevate me … mounting me on horses … and I had to explain I’ve got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon.”
Amy Sherald, the artist chosen to paint Michelle Obama, spoke to the unique opportunity in an interview with The New York Times, published before the unveiling.
“We’ve been on a first-name basis for eight years,” Sherald joked, before speaking seriously about the significant honor.
“She’s an archetype that a lot of women can relate to — no matter shape, size, race or color,” Sherald said. “We see our best selves in her.”
Sherald and Wiley were the first African-Americans commissioned to paint portraits of a former president and first lady for the gallery. Wiley, Time reported, was chosen for his use of color when portraying black people, and said that he used flowers from Chicago, Hawaii and Kenya in the background of his portrait as a way to represent Barack Obama’s history.
“I’m just going to pretend it’s not a big deal,” Sherald said in her New York Times interview about the opportunity to paint the portrait of Michelle Obama.
“I paint paintings of people. And I’m painting a painting of another person.”