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White House/Pete Souza
Aboard Air Force One, former President Bush shows photos of his paintings to, from left, First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder and former First Lady Laura Bush, Dec. 9, 2013.
A White House photographer captured former President George W. Bush showing off his paintings to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a historic moment aboard Air Force One this week.
Bush and wife Laura joined Clinton and the Obamas on a flight to South Africa on Monday for Nelson Mandela's memorial service. The 16-hour journey was captured in a series of photographs by Pete Souza that were later posted on the White House's official website.
The photo shows a bespectacled Bush bent over a tablet that is sitting on a conference table. The former president is flanked by Clinton, Obama's senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and First Lady Michelle Obama. Laura Bush, Attorney General Eric Holder and National Security Advisor Susan Rice look on from across the table.
Bush has taken to the easel since he left office in 2009 and photos of his paintings of dogs and cats have surfaced on the Internet this year. In November, he presented "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with a portrait of him.
The photo is making its way around the web and the trip itself a reflection of Mandela's impact on generations of leaders fighting against racial divide and his ability to unite the political polar opposites for a long journey across the Atlantic, according to New York Times reporter Michael D. Shear.
Bush and Obama are now part of a "tiny group" of presidents who bonded at 30,000 feet in the air, Shear said.
Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter shared a flight on Air Force One in 1981 for the funeral of Egypt's President Anwar el-Sadat. Decades later, George H.W. Bush bonded with Bill Clinton on a flight to Asia after the 2004 tsunami, according to the Times report.
Scroll down to see more photos from the Air Force One flight to South Africa.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with the Obamas, Ben Rhodes and Capricia Marshall aboard Air Force One, Dec. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama jokes with former President George W. Bush shortly after boarding Air Force One for the trip to South Africa, Dec. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and President Bush talk as they get ready to have dinner aboard Air Force One with their wives and Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen and Susan Rice. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)