Duchess Kate 'thrilled,' but others less kind as official portrait unveiled
Maybe it's the eyes. Or the slight smirk.
There is definitely something about the official Duchess of Cambridge portrait, unveiled Friday at the National Portrait Gallery, that just doesn't look right.
Maybe the expectations for Paul Emsley's work were a little high, but that made little difference for critics who weighed in.
The Sunday Times art critic said it looked "nothing like Kate in real life."
Some comments from Guardian readers included: "Dear god. They've aged her 20 years"; and "I have to stop looking at it now because it's giving me the major creeps."
Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak complained that the "pretty ordinary" portrait "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 Telegraph critic, Mark Hudson, said Emsley "has produced what looks like a piece of mawkish book illustration, a work that could be read as an almost comical pastiche of a certain kind of ‘sensitive’ painting -- that might pass muster on the cover of a Catherine Cookson novel, but will hardly bear sustained scrutiny in a major art gallery."
Kate, though, was apparently "thrilled" with the portrait by the artist that she chose. She posed for the painting in two sittings in May and June.
"It's just amazing, I thought it was brilliant," she said.
Her husband, Prince William, was equally entralled.
"It's beautiful, it's absolutely beautiful," he said.
The artist explained that the because the duchess's image almost iconic, his difficulty was in finding "something which is original."
"The Duchess explained to me that she would like to be portrayed naturally -- her natural self as opposed to her official self," said Emsley. "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."
Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
Let us know what you think.
Prince WIlliam and his wife Catherine speak with British artist Paul Emsley after viewing his portrait of the duchess at the National Portrait Gallery. (AFP/Getty Images)