|Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.But as the Duchess of Cambridge’s first official portrait was unveiled to the public yesterday, art critics were, unusually, largely united in their condemnation.‘Ghastly ... rotten ... an out and out disaster,’ was the view of the editor of the British Art Journal, Robin Simon.Scroll down for video
The Duchess attended the gallery for the unveiling of the first official portrait of her painted by Paul Emsley
Real impact: The painting is much bigger than lifesize - which one art critic called a 'jolly brave' choice
One to show the grandchildren? The pregnant Duchess looked in high spirits as she arrived at the gallery for a private viewing this morning ahead of the public unveiling
‘It’s only saving grace is that it’s not by Rolf Harris,’ was the best that David Lee, now editor of The Jackdaw and a former editor of Art Review, could manage.Kate, on her first official outing for almost a month, was far more polite. ‘It’s just amazing. Absolutely brilliant,’ she told the artist, Paul Emsley, when she met him at the National Portrait Gallery, where the picture will hang.Her husband, Prince William, nodded sagely. ‘It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful,’ he concurred.From others, however, the biggest criticism seemed to be the generally ageing nature of the portrait, which took three and a half months to produce.Most seemed to think it makes the duchess, who turned 31 this week, look at least 15 years older.
Their muse: The Duchess introduces her husband to artist Paul Emsley after viewing his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery
Portrait of the artist: Emsley working on the painting at his studio in Bradford-upon-Avon, Wiltshire, using a photo taken when the Duchess visited him there in May
Then there are the shadows and creases which give her a rather baggy-eyed look, not to mention the squareness of her jaw and the rather coppery tint to her famously tumbling brunette locks.One onlooker at the gallery yesterday couldn’t get over what they described as her ‘grey, smoker’s skin’, while another commented that her mouth appears to be set in a grimace rather than the promised enigmatic smile.
What he saw: The artist said he wanted to emphasise Kate's 'sparkling green eyes'