Royal Kate portrait splits opinion

Last updated 09:42 12/01/2013
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While the Duchess of Cambridge is said to be delighted by her first official portrait, art critics have labelled it a bland and ordinary painting which makes her look older than she really is.

The first official portrait of Prince William's wife, Catherine, has been unveiled in London, with the Duchess giving the work a royal thumbs up.

Catherine, 31, attended the National Portrait Gallery on Friday where artist Paul Emsley's work was revealed to a private audience which included the Duke of Cambridge.

''I think, from what I can see this morning, she's delighted with it. I'm very happy about that,'' Emsley said of the Duchess's reaction.

But others aren't as fond of the painting, with some critics describing it as "rotten"  

"He made her look older than she is and her eyes don't sparkle in the way that they do and there's something rather dour about the face," The Times of London's art critic, Waldemar Januszczak said.

Robin Simon, another art critic for the Daily Mail, said it was fortunate the Duchess looked nothing like she did in the portrait, Time reported. 

Meanwhile, some people have taken to Twitter to give the Duchess a makeover.

Emsley, an award-winning artist, was commissioned by the gallery to capture the Duchess during a series of photography sessions.

The larger-than-life sized head and shoulders painting shows the Duchess's flowing brunette hair and soft features against a dark background.

''In discussions it became clear that what she wanted herself, and I was very happy with that, was that the portrait should convey her natural self as opposed to her official self,'' Emsley told reporters, as published by The Independent online.

''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 about her warmth and her smile.''

Asked of any royal feedback he received during the unveiling, Emsley said Catherine, who has a history of art degree, commented on the portrait: ''It's just amazing''.

The work was praised by prolific royal portrait artist Richard Stone, who said Emsley is ''brave'' to have embarked on a work of such large scale.

''It's very challenging to do something larger than life, and he seems to have pulled it off very well,'' said Stone, whose first royal commission was to paint the Queen Mother, which he went on to do six times.

While Stone's reaction may have been positive, the public reaction has largely been negative.

One Daily Mail reader from Canada summed up broader opinion in an unnamed comment.

"OMG, how awful! Rather than being overly flattering as many royal portraits are, this one is the extreme opposite. She's barely recognizable! Poor Kate, forced to say she's 'thrilled' when in all likelihood, she is as horrified as the rest of us."

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