The image above shows longtime Major League slugger Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record 40 years ago this season. In honor of Aaron’s 80th birthday celebration in Washington, DC, it will be dedicated at the Smithsonian this weekend.
Here’s the shocking part: It’s a painting.
Portrait artist Ross Rossin specializes in realistic portraits of world leaders, celebrities and historical figures, but painted “Hank,” the portrait above, before he fully understood Aaron’s stature in baseball.
“Blame it on my European roots but I wasn’t wholly aware of the magnitude of Hank Aaron’s legacy and importance to America,” the Bulgarian-American artist said. “When he came to my studio four years ago, on Feb. 5th 2010, which happened to be his 76st birthday, I was most impressed by his engaging charm and magnetism.
“We talked, I took photos of him and then we talked some more. It was only afterward that I learned that he is the king, he is the best in the world.”