The first official portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled this morning, and to hear some people talk about it, the artist forgot to paint Kate Middleton and painted a pile of garbage instead. Old garbage.
Waldemar Januszczak of The Sunday Times called the portrait “pretty ordinary… 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.” Robin Simon of The Daily Mail said: “Fortunately, the Duchess of Cambridge looks nothing like this in real life…I’m really sad to say this is a rotten portrait.” A whole bunch of people on Twitter said even meaner stuff.
Indeed, the portrait does show some fine lines and wrinkles, and her famously shiny brown hair appears somewhat dull and coppery. Her expression might be read as slightly smirk-y, but then again, that’s generally what happens when someone who is not an Olsen twin decides to smile with closed lips.
I would also say the portrait has a slight ghostly quality to it, like we are viewing this Kate Middleton through the space-time continuum, and she actually dwells in a parallel universe in which she is five years older and/or just not wearing concealer. The horror, the horror!
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? The controversy becomes more understandable when you look into the work of artist Paul Emsley, who is known for his hyperrealistic, “warts and all” portrayals. And in fact, he said Kate was almost too pretty for him to portray in any serious way. Come again? “If you are working with someone who has whose face is just a lovely face, it’s harder to find something in the portrait that gives it some sort of gravitas,” Emsley told People. ”In this case I’ve tried to do that with the smile and the dimples and the shadows around the face.”
While it troubles me that he thinks someone needs to have certain physical signifiers in order for us to take them seriously, I get his point; the best portrait subjects have lived at least some life, and despite being fairly young and having a pretty good life so far, the 31-year-old Middleton is not a teenager, so why paint her like one? Kate herself reportedly pronounced it “brilliant and amazing” in a private viewing earlier today, which is shorthand for “you will never ever know what I actually think of this painting.”
Another amusing tidbit is that the portrait is currently housed in the same room as a nude painting of David Beckham. While I think it would be a fun contrast to have them in the same gallery, museum staff are planning to move the sexy portrait out of the room so that Kate will have nothing fun to look at. Let’s hope she’s able to keep on smiling anyway.
(Via The Daily Mail)