Kate official portrait unveiled

The Duchess of Cambridge has described her first official portrait, which was unveiled today, as "amazing".

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Middleton family view Kate's official portrait

The mother and sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Carole (left) and Pippa, leave the National Portrait Gallery Credit: John Stillwell / PA Wire

The family of the Duchess of Cambridge went to the National Portrait Gallery in central London, to view her portrait of her by Paul Emsley.

The brother and father of the Duchess of Cambridge, James and Michael Middleton, leave the National Portrait Gallery in central London. Credit: Press Assocation

Artist 'very happy' Kate pleased with portrait

The Duchess of Cambridge described the portrait as "amazing" Credit: John Stillwell / PA Wire

Award-winning artist Paul Emsley said he was "very happy" the Duchess of Cambridge liked his portrait. Speaking to reporters at the unveiling of Kate's first official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, he said:

"I think, from what I can see this morning, she's delighted with it. I'm very happy about that."

"A person whose image is so pervasive, for an artist it is really difficult to go beyond that and find something which is original - you have to rely on your technique and your artistic instincts to do that and I hope I've succeeded."

Artist Paul Emsley by his new portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge Credit: John Stillwell / PA Wire

Talking about the how he composed the painting, Emsley said:

"In discussions it became clear that what she wanted herself, and I was very happy with that, was that the portrait should convey her natural self as opposed to her official self."

"The fact she is a beautiful woman is for an artist difficult. In the end I think what I tried to do really was to convey something about her warmth and her smile."

The Duchess of Cambridge and artist Paul Emsley Credit: John Stillwell / PA Wire


Art critics disappointed by Kate's 'rotten portrait'

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak, who writes for The Sunday Times, said the Duchess of Cambridge had been "let down" by her first official portrait. He told BBC News:

I was disappointed, to be honest. 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.

But I think she's been let down really by the picture. In the end it's yet another pretty ordinary painting of a royal of the sort that we've been really churning out for the last few hundred years in Britain.

It made her look sort of older than she is and her eyes don't sparkle in the way that they do. There's something rather dour about the face.

– Waldemar Januszczak

The Daily Mail art critic and editor of the British Art Journal Robin Simon also expressed his disappointment.

I'm really sad to say this is a rotten portrait. Fortunately, the Duchess of Cambridge looks nothing like this in real life.

– Robin Simon

Kate's portrait praised for being 'natural' and 'very human'

It's very human - when you look at it, the full face is in front of you, you look straight into the eyes and face.

There are no airs and graces, there's no background context to allude to success or power - it's very much on a level of one to one with the viewer.

It's quite natural, it's open, it's straightforward and very pure - it's immediate and not overly sentimental.

– Alastair Adams, president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

Royal artist praises 'extremely warm' Kate portrait

Britain's most prolific royal portrait artist has praised the first official painting of the Duchess of Cambridge, calling it "extremely warm."

Richard Stone, who has painted most members of the Royal Family during the past three decades, said the work by Paul Emsley had captured Kate's evident approachability.

I liked it, very much so. So often with official portraits they can be rather stiff and starchy, but this has a lovely informality about it, and a warmth to it.

I haven't met the Duchess of Cambridge, but by all accounts and obviously from the photographs and on television, she comes across as an extremely warm and approachable person, and that seems to be exactly what he has captured.

It was jolly brave of him to paint it well over life size, because that's extremely difficult. It's very challenging to do something larger than life, and he seems to have pulled it off very well.

– Richard Stone

Social media users criticise Kate portrait

We asked our Facebook followers what they thought of the first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge. The majority of comments were negative, here are a selection:

It doesn't even look like her. Look at the bags and wrinkles under her eyes and the artist has aged her by at least 10 years. I can't imagine she's overly thrilled by this.

– Lou Jammaz

Looks like she could do with a good night's sleep. The artist obviously has talent - I couldn't do a portrait of a stick man - but it's not very flattering is it?

– Elizabeth Cooper

Not good, the artist obviously has talent but hasn't injected any life into the portrait. As others have said, it makes her look old and tired.

– Val Walton


  1. Georgina Brewer - ITV News Royal Producer

Kate had two sittings for the official portrait

The Duchess of Cambridge said Paul Emsley's portrait of her was "brilliant, amazing, absolutely brilliant."

The first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled today. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Kate had two sittings for the painting, one in the artist's studio and the other at Kensington Palace.

At the unveiling she was wearing a Whistles burgundy dress and told Emsley's daughter she "had such a fun time at the studio."

Royal couple praise 'amazing' Kate portrait

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised the first official portrait of Kate, calling it "amazing" and "beautiful".

It's just amazing, I thought it was brilliant.

– Duchess of Cambridge

It's beautiful, it's absolutely beautiful.

– Duke of Cambridge

The royal couple had a private viewing of the painting this morning before it goes on display at the National Portrait Gallery. They spent 10 minutes looking at the portrait and met artist Paul Emsley and his wife Susanne and daughter Marie.

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