Colin Powell Comments on Life-sized Portrait

One would think that Colin Powell — former national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state — would be
Ron Sherr’s painting of former Secretary of State, Colin Powell (Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery) ready to slow down and smell the roses. Think again. The 75-year-old Powell has kept a busy schedule since leaving public service, with a schedule chock full of speaking engagements and entrepreneurial ventures that take him all over the world.

On Monday, a life-size portrait of Powell, commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, will be placed on public view. The image was created by artist Ron Sherr, who chose to depict Powell on the grounds of Fort McNair in Washington. While this isn’t the first painting he has received (and may not be the last), Powell talked with The RootDC about why he remains humbled and touched by the experience, his plans to influence the next generation and what he wants his legacy to be.

What was it like to be chosen as the subject for this painting?

Well, I can’t tell you how proud I am that I’m going to be hung. What makes it so unique is that I have other portraits; I have a portrait in the Pentagon — it’s a photographic portrait, and I have a very fine portrait as secretary of state that’s in the State Department, but this is the first time they didn’t have to do it. They asked to do it, as opposed to it just having to be done because I was secretary of state or chairman, so I’m deeply honored. I was online looking at who else is in the Portrait Gallery, and it is humbling to be included in that group of very distinguished Americans.

So even in all the times that you’ve been honored for your achievements, you still feel humbled and surprised?

Well, particularly this time. If you go in the Pentagon and if you find the right corridor, you might see my picture on the wall along with all the other former chairmen. And if you’re at the State Department in a very secluded area, in a very formal area where all our paintings are, there might be a few people there. But what is exciting about this is…

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