Some say that the artist Paul Emsley who painted Kate Middleton in her official portrait should go back to art school. However this critic feels that as a piece of realistic portraiture it is not that bad. However many critics feel it looks nothing like Kate and that it does not do justice to her famous royal good looks.
The New York Daily News says Kate Middleton’s first official portrait as a royal is here — like it or not. “While the painting prompted mixed reactions after Friday’s unveiling in London, Middleton praised it as “absolutely brilliant,” according to The Prince of Wales website.
Scottish-born artist Paul Emsley said he followed the royal mom-to-be’s instructions “to be portrayed naturally — her natural self — as opposed to her official self,” adds The Daily News.
He doctored her eye color to match her blouse and the painting’s background, adds The Daily News. “She struck me as an enormously open and generous and a very warm person,” Emsley said of Duchess Kate to the media. “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,” adds the report.
“She looks like the head bouncer in a security firm,” one commenter posted on The Daily Telegraph’s Web site, adds The New York Times. The painting by Paul Emsley was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery on Friday, and if nothing else, it successfully brought out the inner art critic in even non-art critics, adds The Times.
“I hate to be negative,” someone posted on The Guardian’s Web site, “but it’s really tragically awful.” Mr. Emsley who was commissioned by the gallery to produce the work won the BP Portrait Award in 2007 for a painting of Michael Simpson, a fellow artist. The duchess, the former Kate Middleton, sat for him twice, and he continued painting from photographs he took, adds The Times.
One rule in art school Elmsley did not follow
Always paint from life is what my art professors have always told me and painting from photographs while passable and easier, rarely makes the grade. Why? The lighting from life creates shadows and subtle nuances of light and dark. This portrait is not subtle. “The biggest complaint about the work, a head-and-shoulders portrait, is that it puts about 20 years, and possibly 20 pounds, on the duchess, who is 31 and as slender as they come (despite being pregnant). It is somewhat hazy, as if it were a photograph that had been heavily airbrushed to disguise the subject’s age wrinkles,” adds The Times.
The painting adds age and pounds to the beautiful Duchess
Alastair Adams, the president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, told the BBC that the painting was admirably “straightforward and very pure.”Unfortunately for Mr. Emsley, who is unlikely to produce work that generates this degree of interest anytime soon, most art critics begged to differ, adds The Times in its review.
“It looks as if the painter asked the subject to ‘say cheese!’ and then told her to scram and buy some clothes while he painted the photograph,” David Lee, former editor of Art Review magazine, said in The Daily Mail. “It is perfectly adequate for the boardroom of a supermarket but entirely inadequate for a national collection.”
Waldemar Januszczak, the art critic for The Times of London, said it was the boring type of royal painting “we’ve been really churning out for the last few hundred years in Britain.”
In The Guardian, Charlotte Higgins said the painting made the duchess look undead, like a character in one of the “Twilight” movies. And the Daily Telegraph critic Mark Hudson compared the work to a “mawkish book illustration” that could have happily been used on the cover of a romance novel, adds The Times.
“If Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea, had a portrait painted of himself in a similar idiom, we’d all be crowing from the rafters about the pitiful taste of foreign despots,” he wrote, according to The Times.
The general feeling was that although the painting did not reach the same level of badness as the fresco of Jesus Christ that was disastrously restored by a churchgoer in Spain, it was no Mona Lisa, according to the report. “On the other hand, it provided a fine opportunity for the public to engage in one of its favorite activities: finding novel ways to ridicule things connected to the royal family.”
“Sneering at royal portraits is part of British culture,” Mr. Hudson said in his review, “and it might almost be that Mr. Emsley has sacrificed himself to allow that tradition to continue.”
What does Mr. Elmsley think of his portrait? “When I work with a portrait, I push it beyond just realism, so I always had faith that I would go beyond that and find something original, and I think the fact that we got a half smile, or we've got a smile with a closed mouth, does make it slightly unique in that sense," he told the Associated Press.
Well it seems the International Press disagrees. I have to admit it does rather remind me of the Twilight series’ vampire Kristen Stewart after she becomes a vampire in “Breaking Dawn.” Mr. Elmsley best not quit your day job. It’s not exactly Mona Lisa, but I cannot claim being able to produce better work. Staten Island art critics and art historians let www.examiner.com your comments and feedback about the royal portrait. Classic or classless? We’d like to know?