Portraits of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump denies clemency to 180 people Mellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… When George W. Bush stood with Hillary Clinton MORE and Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaBudowsky: End the DNC malpractice George H.W. Bush in intensive care Michelle Obama congratulates duke and duchess of Cambridge on royal baby MORE now have a permanent place at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The ex-commander in chief and first lady looked on as the new works of art were unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery.

"Nobody in the family tree as far as I can tell had a portrait done," the former president said, after eyeing his colorful portrait by artist Kehinde Wiley.

"I do have my high school yearbook picture — which is no great shakes," he added with a grin.

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Calling himself an "impatient" subject who doesn't "like posing," the 44th president said that working with Wiley was "a great joy."

While Wiley is typically known for portraying African Americans as "famous figures in Western art," his portrait of the 56-year-old Barack Obama "does not include an overt art historical reference," according to the Smithsonian.

The former president said to laughs that he attempted to persuade Wiley to use a bit of artistic license with his portrait.

"I tried to negotiate less gray hair," he said. "I tried to negotiate smaller ears. Struck out on that as well."

The flowers seen in the background of the former president's portrait do have symbolic meanings. The chrysanthemums are the official flower of Chicago, where he began his political career. His childhood home of Hawaii is represented through jasmine, and African blue lilies serve as a nod to his late Kenyan-born father, Barack Obama, Sr.

Barack Obama joked that he nixed any portrayal showing him clutching a scepter or mounting a horse.

"I had to explain that I got enough political problems without you making me look like Napoleon," he said he told Wiley. "We got to bring it down just a touch."

Politics, he added, isn't about "celebrating the high and the mighty and expecting that the country unfolds from the top down, but rather that it comes from the bottom up."

"I'm overwhelmed," Michelle Obama told the audience after she took the first gaze at her portrait by Amy Sherald.

She said that she was especially touched that "particularly girls, and girls of color, who in years ahead will come to this place and they will look up, and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution."

"We have come so far," the former first lady continued. "And yes, as we see today, we still have a lot of work to do. But we have every reason to be hopeful and proud."

Baltimore-based artist Sherald's interpretation of the ex-executive mansion resident features gray skin tones, a hallmark of the majority of her paintings. Michelle Obama, 54, is seen wearing a dress by fashion designer Michelle Smith's label, Milly.

"What you represent to this country is an ideal: a human being with integrity, intellect, confidence, and compassion," Sherald said of Michelle Obama. The artist said she aspired through her painting to show "a message of humanity."

The former president praised Sherald's work, quipping she captured the "grace, beauty, intelligence, charm, and hotness of the women that I love."

The unveiling served as a reunion of sorts for Obama administration veterans. Among those eyed: former White House press secretary Josh Earnest chatting with Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees Budowsky: End the DNC malpractice GOP advances proposal to change Senate rules MORE (D-Minn.); Steven Spielberg, who once directed Obama in a spoof of his film, "Lincoln," for the 2013 White House Correspondents' Association dinner; former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDelaware lawmakers unanimously pass new gun control bill named for Beau Biden The Hill's 12:30 Report Biden to decide on White House run at end of year MORE; Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson; former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderComey's book tour is all about 'truth' — but his FBI tenure, not so much James Comey and Andrew McCabe: You read, you decide Eric Holder headed to New Hampshire for high-profile event MORE; former White House press secretary Jay Carney and his wife, journalist Claire Shipman; Obama adviser David Axelrod hugging Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen; ex-Obama aide Reggie Love; former White House chef Sam Kass and his wife, CBS News's Alex Wagner, smiling and attracting oodles of baby gawkers while holding their six-month-old son, Cy; and longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

--This report was updated at 11:52 a.m.