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Article updated: 5/4/2013 11:36 PM

Clinton honored with portrait by Arlington Hts. artist


Former President Bill Clinton was welcomed with a standing ovation Saturday night at the Hilton Chicago.

Clinton, the nation's 42nd president, was awarded the 2013 Lincoln Leadership Prize and presented with a portrait of him created by Arlington Heights artist Bill Chambers.

"I basically don't think former presidents should get awards because the job itself was honor enough, but I am profoundly honored by this," Clinton said.

Chambers' portrait of the former president focused on both Clinton's apperance and his personality.

"The background is a globe to indicate his global initiative," Chambers told the Daily Herald.

During his research, Chambers also said he discovered that Clinton had chosen a bust of Lincoln from the White House's stock of furnishings to decorate the Oval Office during his administration, and Chambers said he felt it was appropriate to include in a painting that would hang in the Lincoln Presidential Library.

Clinton had also been a Rhodes Scholar and Chambers wanted to characterize the scholarly side of the 42nd president.

"He reads an awful lot, so I used a book as an element," Chambers said.

Chambers also spent time looking through many photos that detailed how Clinton had changed from his previous official portraits as president -- particularly a significant weight loss -- as well as his lifelong body language.

"He has a casualness about him," Chambers said. "He holds himself real well. And I made him with his jacket unbuttoned."

Clinton joins former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who are previous Lincoln Leadership honorees, but Clinton is the first U.S. president to receive the award.

"He truly is a person in the great legacy of Abraham Lincoln," Gov. Pat Quinn said.

Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin were among those present at Saturday night's event. But the surprise guest of the evening turned out to be none other than Hillary Clinton.

"The person most responsible for making me president is here. The only American ever to be secretary of state, a United States senator and first lady, so I want to thank Hilary and ask her to stand up," Bill Clinton said.

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