Schroeder returns to German chancellery

Gerhard Schroeder will stay in the German chancellery - golden this time.

Former Chancellor Schroeder returned to the seat of power on Tuesday for the presentation of his official portrait, which took its place alongside the likenesses of his six predecessors.

Depicting a stylized, icon-like Schroeder in gold paint, flanked by red monkeys, the portrait by Joerg Immendorff - one of the country's best-known contemporary artists - marks something of a contrast with its neighbors, sober portrayals of German leaders from Konrad Adenauer to Helmut Kohl.

Current Chancellor Angela Merkel was on hand to see Schroeder, Germany's center-left leader from 1998 until her conservatives narrowly won a 2005 election, immortalized in paint.

She joked that visitors to the chancellery would no longer have to ask: "why hasn't Schroeder been hung up?"

Schroeder noted that there was a space alongside his portrait - suggesting that "whenever it may be, you could one day hang alongside me."

Merkel currently leads a fractious left-right "grand coalition" with Schroeder's Social Democrats. Schroeder has retired from German politics.

Schroeder commissioned the portrait from Immendorff, a prominent supporter and friend who died in May.