Right as I’m immersed in working on several portraits and posting blogs about portraiture, the unveiling of the official portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, happened in London and all of a sudden everyone’s an art critic!
Kate’s beautiful smile and classic good looks, not to mention her important role as the future Queen of England, provided the opportunity of a lifetime for artist Paul Emsley. His painting of Kate, now on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London, has caused all kinds of controversy. It’s opened him up to brutal criticism and also critical acclaim.
Is the criticism warranted? What do all of you think of it? What was your instant reaction and why did you react that way? Why did the artist paint her that way? I’m fascinated by it all. Kate’s portrait might not be what we all expected but does that make it bad?
Some background information might help answer a few of these questions. Kate actually picked the photo used by Paul Emsley out of many that were shot. She informed Mr. Emsley that she would like to be portrayed in a natural, non official manner. When unveiled the Royal couple both expressed their approval of the portrait, Kate saying “just amazing” and William saying “absolutely beautiful”!
So Mr. Emsley painted his beautiful subject the way she wanted to be portrayed. Should he get pounded in the press and by all of the art critics because he didn’t glamorize her the way everyone else sees her?
An important question would be did he capture Kate? My answer would be yes. It may not be what our preconceptions of what Kate Middleton’s portrait should look like, but in the end it is how Kate wanted to be portrayed. His masterful oil painting skills clearly show through in his large, close-up painting of Kate. With nothing but a dark background and an oversized face the focus, Mr. Emsley with painstaking attention to detail created a modern day masterpiece!
Not to mention, the word is that Kate’s family approves of Mr. Emsley’s painting. All in all, it’s quite the accomplishment by artist Paul Emsley!
Personally, I would have wanted to glamorize her! :-)
Here is a great video of the artist talking all about the process.