The Case Of The Mysterious Trump Portraits On The Hill

A BuzzFeed News investigation.

On Wednesday afternoon, a painting of President Donald Trump was spotted being carried around Capitol Hill.

This just came into the Capitol with its creator, Barry Wingard of western PA. He painted it....

Says it wasn't commissioned. Artist contacted Rep. Mike Kelly. Guys carrying it say it (and companion Melania painting) going to VP office.

A portrait of First Lady Melania Trump was its companion. Rumor had it they were headed to Vice President Mike Pence's office.

The plot soon thickened.

MYSTERY: VP spox says office folks on Hill tell him "no new artwork was delivered to either the Vice President’s Ho…

The vice president's office said "no new artwork was delivered to either the Vice President’s House or Senate offices."

BuzzFeed News was able to track the portraits down in Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly's office. He confirmed the artist, Barry L. Wingard, is a constituent of his.

"This is a person taking their talent and their time to show their appreciation," Kelly said, adding that Wingard was very humble.

Here's the artist's Facebook page.

Facebook: BarryLWingardPhD

Wingard, 48, told BuzzFeed News he lives outside of Rimersburg, Pennsylvania, where he began work on the paintings "probably three or four months ago.” Wingard said he drove about five hours on Wednesday to get the paintings to the Capitol.

Kelly's office said three other paintings would also be presented once they were in their "hand-crafted frames." Wingard told BuzzFeed News he did not make the frames.

Photo courtesy of the Office of Rep. Mike Kelly

In the meantime, the congressman's office is working to "facilitate" a transfer "straight to the White House," to make sure the paintings aren't "lost in the shuffle."

One painting of Trump is based on a pool photo of the president on Inauguration Day. The portrait looks exactly like this picture of Trump signing executive orders on Jan. 20.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Wingard told BuzzFeed News he paid for the royalties to use the image of Trump.

Here's a close-up for comparison.

L: J. Scott Applewhite / AP ; R: Casey J. Wooten

This particular photo was taken by Associated Press senior photojournalist J. Scott Applewhite, a two-time Pulitzer winner.

The portrait of the first lady appears to be based on this photo of the Trumps arriving at St. John's Episcopal Church for a ceremony before the inauguration — except it's been flipped.

Alex Brandon / AP

Here's a comparison of the flipped AP photograph and the painting of FLOTUS.

L: Alex Brandon / AP ; R: Casey J. Wooten

This photograph was taken by photojournalist Alex Brandon, who also works for AP.

Wingard said he painted them because he thinks the president "deserves respect."

“The lack of respect for the president has gone on a little too far," he said.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.