THE Duchess of Cambridge’s first official portrait has been unveiled – and it was described by Kate as “amazing”.
Award-winning artist Paul Emsley created the large head and shoulders painting of the Duchess set against his trademark dark background.
Kate’s painting was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and, following her suggestion, depicts her natural, not official, persona.
The Duchess, who wore a burgundy dress by Whistles, was joined by her husband the Duke for a private viewing of the painting yesterday before it went on display to the public.
The Royal couple spent about 10 minutes looking at the portrait privately then met Emsley and his wife Susanne and daughter Marie.
Kate has been suffering from a rare form of pregnancy sickness but looked well and smiled as she chatted to the artist.
She told him: “It’s just amazing, I thought it was brilliant.”
William also had high praise for the painting, saying: “It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful.”
The Cambridges later attended a private breakfast reception at the London gallery to mark the unveiling. Among the guests were Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton and her brother and sister Pippa and James.
The unveiling of the Duchess’s portrait generated huge interest among the media, with dozens of photographers, cameramen and reporters crowding round the painting and its artist.
Asked what Kate, who has a history of art degree, thought of it, Emsley replied: “I think, from what I can see this morning, she’s delighted with it. I’m very happy about that.”
And he added: “I was delighted to get the commission and then after that it began to sink in to me how important this would be. 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.”
But art critic Waldemar Januszczak, who writes for The Sunday Times, was not impressed.
He told BBC News: “I was disappointed, to be honest. I have been waiting for it, like everybody else, with great expectation ... But I think she’s been let down by the picture. In the end, it’s yet another pretty ordinary painting of a Royal of the sort that we’ve been churning out for the last few hundred years in Britain.”