Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was the guest of honor at the unveiling of artist Paul Emsley’s latest creation today in London.
The Duchess was joined by her husband, Prince William, and her family – Michael, Carole, James and Pippa Middleton at a private viewing of her very first portrait at the National Portrait Gallery today (January 11th) in London.
Emsley was selected from a shortlist of potential artists by the Duchess herself, who took part in two sittings last May and June – one at Emsley’s West Country studio and again at Kensington Palace. In addition, Emsley used a series of photos taken during each session to complete the work.
“The Duchess explained that she would like to be portrayed naturally – her natural self – as opposed to her official self,” Emsley said. “She struck me as enormously open and generous and a very warm person. After initially feeling it was going to be an unsmiling portrait I think it was the right choice in the end to have her smiling – that is really who she is.”
Catherine, who holds a degree in art history from St. Andrew’s University and is a patron of the NPG, seemed thrilled with the result
“Brilliant, amazing, absolutely brilliant,” Her Royal Highness was overheard saying.
The reviews are mixed, with many saying that Emsley made Catherine look much older than her 31 years.
I, for one, would have preferred a more regal portrait. Perhaps one of the Duchess in her wedding dress standing in one of Buckingham Palace’s state rooms. Though I respect the artist’s work and see what he was trying to achieve, my expectations matched those of Sunday Times Art critic Waldemar Januszczak.
“I was disappointed, to be honest,” he told the BBC (via Daily Mail). “I have been waiting for it, like everybody else, with great expectation because the Duchess of Cambridge is someone who we know likes art and was presumably going to be an enlightened patron.”
William, ever the gentleman, told Emsley that the portrait was “beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”
Sidenote: Couldn’t make out a bump under that flattering Whistles dress, which made Catherine look like the prettiest pregnant person ever. If I were a betting lady, I would say that Catherine literally just hit month three, having had to tell the press about her pregnancy in the first month.