First Duchess of Cambridge portrait unveiled

By Daniel S Levine,

The first official portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was unveiled by the royal family early this morning.

The portrait, which was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, was painted by Paul Emsley, who won the gallery’s BP Portrait Award in 2007. Kate took part in the process early on and sat for Emsley in May and June at his studio and at Kensington Palace.

According to The Telegraph, Kate and Prince William had a 10-minute private viewing this morning, meeting with the artist. Prince William approved of the painting, calling it “just beautiful.”

“It's just amazing, I thought it was brilliant,” Kate said. The Duchess, who is expecting the royal couple’s first child, is still suffering from pregnancy sickness, but looked well this morning, smiling.

“I had such a fun day at the studio,” she told Emsley.

While the couple may have approved of the painting, The Daily Mail reports that some critics have been harsh. Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak called it “pretty ordinary,” while the Daily Mail’s own critic Robin Simon said, “I'm really sad to say this is a rotten portrait.”

During the unveiling, Emsley explained, “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.”

Emsley explains the portrait in the following video:

image: princeofwales.gov.uk

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