Unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, Oprah Winfrey’s commissioned portrait captures her timeless impact on arts and culture.

African American woman on apurple taffata dress standing in a landscape
Oprah Winfrey by Shawn Michael Warren / Oil on linen 2023 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Acquired through the generosity of Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia; Taylor and Wemimo Abbey; Anonymous; Deon Jones and Cameron J. Ross; Lisa Opoku and Loki Muthu; Mack Wilbourn; Charles Young and Andrea Wishom Young

December 13, 2023 – October 20, 2024

Oprah Winfrey’s portrait is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Chicago-based artist Shawn Michael Warren painted Winfrey in a purple taffeta dress amidst a lush garden at her California home. The full-length 70 3/16 × 56 1/8″ portrait, commissioned for the museum’s permanent collection, will be on view on the museum’s first floor beginning Dec. 13.

As a global media leader, philanthropist, producer, actor, author and entrepreneur, Winfrey has made significant contributions to American popular culture, which earned her a place in the National Portrait Gallery.

The painting was revealed in an invitation-only ceremony the morning of Dec. 13 in the museum’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard. Speakers included Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet, Winfrey and Warren. More luminaries from television, publishing, business, arts, culture and Hollywood were in attendance at the portrait reveal.

“Through her rise to fame as host and producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah demonstrated an unparalleled ability to connect with people and inspire them to become the best versions of themselves,” Sajet said. “Her vision and spirit deserve recognition in the nation’s Portrait Gallery, and we are delighted to celebrate her with this commissioned portrait by Shawn Michael Warren, who has reflected her warmth and compassion in this painting.”

Oprah Winfrey born 1954
Born Kosciusko, Mississippi

The groundbreaking television host, media producer, philanthropist, actor, and author Oprah Winfrey exemplifies American tenets of individual achievement. She rose to fame in 1986, when her daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, was nationally syndicated. Over twenty-five seasons, Winfrey interviewed more than 37,000 people, ranging from parents and world leaders to entertainers and everyday folks from all walks of life. Her remarkable ability to connect with diverse audiences helped the program make television history. Today, she is one of the most influential people in the world.

Wearing a purple taffeta gown to symbolize the significance of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple (1982) in her life, Winfrey is portrayed surrounded by twelve interwoven oak trees. Being a woman of strong faith, she likens them to the twelve disciples. The Chicago-based artist Shawn Michael Warren grew up watching and admiring Winfrey on television. In showing her smiling and extending an olive branch, he conveys Winfrey’s elegant, playful, warm, and generous spirit.

Shawn Michael Warren (born 1987)
Oil on linen, 2023
Acquired through the generosity of Tommie L. Pegues and Donald A. Capoccia; Taylor and Wemimo Abbey; Anonymous; Deon Jones and Cameron J. Ross; Lisa Opoku and Loki Muthu; Mack Wilbourn; Charles Young and Andrea Wishom Young

#OprahWinfrey #CommissionedPortrait #NationalPortraitGallery

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