The Duchess of Cambridge’s first official painting by artist Paul Emsley was revealed earlier today at the National Portrait Gallery to mixed reviews.
Emsley was commissioned by the gallery after Kate chose him from a shortlist of prospective artists. He used a technique of building thin layers of oil and glazes on canvas during a period of several months. The duchess, whose pregnancy was made public last month after she was hospitalised suffering from a severe form of morning sickness, sat for Emsley on two occasions before he worked on the portrait from a series of photographs taken of the duchess.
But following the public reveal this morning, the critics have been far from complimentary of the work, with editor of the British Art Journal and Daily Mail art critic, Robin Simon, commenting, “Fortunately, the Duchess of Cambridge looks nothing like this in real life. I’m really sad to say this is a rotten portrait.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s chief arts writer, Charlotte Higgins, stated that the Duchess had, “been transformed into something unpleasant from the Twilight franchise.”
The artist himself described his work as simple: “I don’t have lots of things in the background. I do like large faces, I find them strong and contemporary.
“The fact she is a beautiful woman is for an artist difficult. In the end I think what I tried to do really was to convey something aout her warmth and her smile. Any artist will tell you doing a smiling portrait is not at all easy so that was difficult.
“You’re always unhappy with what you do… but it has seemed today that everyone likes it.”
Mr Emsley might be a little misguided on that final point… what do you think of the Duchess of Cambridge’s new portrait? Do you think it’s an accurate representation? Or does it fail to capture Kate’s beauty? Vote in our poll below: