Diatribe: Kate Middleton’s First Official Portrait Should Be More Flattering.
I hate to have my picture taken. I always have. No matter how hard my mother tried to dress me at my best for Picture Day at school, no matter how many compliments I received at a wedding, I would always hate the way I looked in the final product. Still, to this day, when I’m coerced into being in a group photo I always work my way to the back row, thrust my lower jaw forward to eliminate as many chins as possible, grin and bear it. After all, I figure, the picture’s not FOR me it’s OF me. I won’t be hanging any portraits of myself above a fireplace any time soon.
But the same can’t be said for Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Yesterday, her first official portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait, created by Glasgow-born, South African-raised artist Paul Emsley, required two sittings with the Duchess and was met with mixed reviews. Middleton herself said “I thought it was brilliant … amazing … absolutely brilliant” and her husband, Prince William, wisely agreed.
Of course they like it. Even if they didn’t I imagine they’d be gracious enough to pretend.
Critics panned it calling the painting “rotten” and “nothing like Kate in real life”. Others claim Emsley made her look older than she is and her eyes don’t sparkle in the way that they should. I don’t care for it either. I, too, think she looks old and the smile that he’s given her is more of a smirk or a grimace … and certainly not flattering.
“I altered the color of the eyes slightly to match the color of the blouse. I’m interested in the landscape of the face … anything else in there is really just an interference.” – Paul Emsley
Emsley, who has a reputation for divided opinions of his extraordinarily realistic, almost photographic style, was chosen by Middleton to paint the portrait. Without a doubt Emsley is a master artist. But recreating a photo, or painting a portrait so lifelike that it resembles a photograph, in my opinion is pointless. Digital photography produces amazing results. A portrait of this nature should be larger than life … better than life … not simply lifelike. Middleton is a beautiful young woman and Emsley has missed an opportunity to preserve her beauty for eternity.
I’ll never allow my portrait to be painted. I know that I won’t like it. If I’m ever coerced into sitting for photographs, I expect a team of digital photographers using various Photoshop programs to make me look young and thin. After all, if Harper’s Bazaar can take away Beyonce’s curves then somebody should be able to make me look better.
What do you think? Does the portrait do Middleton justice?
UPDATE 01/23/13: Portrait Artist Paul Emsley responds to Middleton critiques.
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