Wiley's work is recognized by his Baroque-influenced portraits featuring black male subjects in adopting the stance of European royalty as seen in art history. Wiley is one of the most important contemporary artists working in American today, he had a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum in 2015, and received the US State Department Medal of Arts that same year.

Arms_of_Nicolaas_Ruterius_Bishop_of_Arras Kehinde Wiley, Arms of Nicolas Ruterius, Bishop of Arras, 2014

Sherald's oeuvre focuses on black women, her subjects painted in shades and tones of gray. Her work can be seen in Harlem's Studio Museum as part of ''Fiction,'' a show featuring 19 contemporary artists of from the African diaspora. Sherald also has pieces at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in Washington in 2016.

7.It Made Sense... Mostly In Her Mind_0 Amy Sherald, It Made Sense... Mostly In Her Mind, 2011
Image: Courtesy of the artist

''Both [artists] have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century,'' said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, in a statement.

John Quincy Adams photograph, 1843, by Philip Haas Image: National Portrait Gallery. John Quincy Adams photograph, 1843, by Philip Haas
Image: National Portrait Gallery.

The portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald will be part of the Smithsonian's ''America's Presidents'' exhibition which opens next month. An exciting addition to the reopened show is the 1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams the earliest known photograph of a US president. The image of John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth President, was purchased by the museum at Sotheby's New York on October 5, for $360 500.