Kate Middleton's portrait - the first official commission - of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled today (Friday) to mixed reaction. The 31 year old Duchess and her family were given a private viewing last night, where she reportedly said she was "thrilled" with the portrait. But when it went public today, at the National Portrait Gallery in London (and for the world to see on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's website), that wasn't exactly the reaction it received.
The portrait-style painting by Paul Emsley appears to age Kate at least a decade. With dark circles and lines under her green eyes, the Duchess appears older than her 31 years. The Daily Mail quotes critics as calling the portrait "rotten" and saying it looks nothing like her.
Along with her eyes, Kate's partial smile jumps out as somewhat odd. The world has come to adore her toothy grin which, this week, was revealed to show off 8.6 teeth. Instead, her charming smile is replaced with a closed-lipped partial grin. The Duchess' hair captures her real-life locks, although it does not include her new fringe. Kate sat for the portrait twice in May and June 2012, before she cut bangs.
The Duchess of Cambridge helped select Emsley for the commission. It took him three and a half months to paint the piece. The 2007 winner of the Gallery’s BP Portrait Award competition presented Kate Middleton's portrait to the Gallery’s Trustees at their November 2012 meeting. In a statement released by St. James's Palace, the artist explains:
"The Duchess explained that she would like to be portrayed naturally - her natural self - as opposed to her official self. 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."
Kate Middleton's portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery near several portraits of her husband and the rest of the royal family.