Royal Kate portrait splits opinion

22:41, Jan 11 2013
Kate Portrait
Glasgow-born artist Paul Emsley poses next to hisoil painting of Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Kate Portrait
Glasgow-born artist Paul Emsley (L) greets Britain's Prince William (R) during a private viewing of his new official commissioned painting of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Kate Portrait
Face of joy? The first official painting of the Duchess of Cambridge has copped some criticism - but Kate herself is said to be 'delighted'.
Kate Portrait
Smile or grimace? Opinions about the first official portrait of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge are divided.
Kate Portrait
Smile or grimace? Opinions about the first official portrait of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge are divided.
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Coronation Theatre: Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ralph Heimans.
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone.
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Prints by Andy Warhol of Britain's Queen Elizabeth
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Lucian Freud's portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Official Portrait of the Danish Royal Family, by James Brennan for The Bald Archys.
Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Danish Royal Family portrait doesn't look so bad now by comparison.
Kate Portait
Scottish artist Tom Sutton-Smith has painted an alternative portrait of the duchess.

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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