Kate Middleton’s official portrait was unveiled on January 11, at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It has been described as lifeless and dull, with the Duchess looking much older than her 31 years. Paul Emsley, the painter, is a renowned artist, and has won many prizes for his art. His portfolio is a lot more impressive than this painting of the Duchess of Cambridge. So, what happened?
Kate Middleton is said to have done two sittings for the painter in 2012. Pictures had been taken from those sittings, and Paul Emsley finished his work with those pictures. Many art critics (and non-critics!) agree: this portrait is a disaster. But the Duchess is said to be pretty satisfied with the finished product.
Highlights in her hair and on her face are grey-ish, making her look in her 50’s. In fact, the whole light on her face, and the darkness of the background, is wrong. Her eyelids look heavy and her eyes dead. Famous for her long, bouncy chestnut hair – her hair at least looks great, but then… doesn’t it always?
Her smile is questionable. It’s half a smile, no teeth are showing. The wrinkles around her mouth also don’t help making her look younger. It doesn’t seem natural; it just doesn’t seem like Kate. She is known for her big, white, joyous smile. The positive side of this portrait is that it’s not too official. It’s casual and relaxed. In an official portrait, Royals don’t often smile. It’s a choice the Duchess made, and it’s showing her will to make the monarchy a much more open and young institution.
Many more royal portraits are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, such as some of the Queen, Prince William and Harry, and monarchs from another era like Queen Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.