As you’ve no doubt read if you’re a fan of this blog, the first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery this week.
The portrait was given to the National Portrait Gallery (of which Kate is Patron) through the Art Fund by Sir Hugh Leggatt in memory of Sir Denis Mahon. The artist, Paul Emsley, was chosen with Kate’s input.
According to the National Portrait Gallery’s website, ”the Duchess was able to give two sittings, the first at Kensington Palace and the second at the artist’s studio. Emsley’s subjects are frequently located against a dark background and emphasize, ‘the singularity and silence of the form.’” As the artist said, Kate wanted to be portrayed “naturally, her natural self, as opposed to her official self.” He also shared that Kate chose the photograph from which the artist based the portrait (which can be seen in the second photograph below).
Check out this great (and short) video of Emsley talking about how the portrait came together. It’s especially interesting to see all the photographs he used to create the portrait:
Notably, Kate chose to wear the sapphire earrings that were owned by Princess Diana (it is believed they were a gift from Charles) and were modified for Kate. Click here for more info on those. Kate also chose to wear the earrings for the Duke and Duchess’ official portrait for their 2011 tour of Canada and California:
As for the blouse, the Daily Mail reports that “The finished picture shows her in a Windsor blue pussy-bow blouse imagined by the artist because she wore different outfits for each of her sittings.” It looks to me to be quite close to the one in the picture attached to the portrait below, though:
I feel like the portrait has been unfairly criticized in the press, and in person must look quite different than it could possibly look in print or on the internet. Our London-based Royal Poster is hoping to drop by the Gallery shortly, and we’ll update the blog with her thoughts of how the portrait appears in person.
Before we move along, did anyone else notice that Carole Middleton wore the same jacket to the unveiling that she wore on the engagement day announcement? Here she is with Pippa arriving at the Gallery:
And here she is on the day of the engagement announcement:
Back to royal portraits!
It has been reported that Prince Charles commissioned a portrait of Kate as a gift for Prince William’s 30th birthday. If that is the case, it is unlikely to be seen in the public for quite some time, if ever. My hope is that William and Kate eventually release some photos of this nature in their new Kensington Palace apartment, and that we will then see the portrait in the background.
Here’s to hoping!
Before we end, let’s take a quick look at the first official portrait of the then Lady Diana Spencer. This portait hangs at the National Portrait Gallery and it was painted by Bryan Organ in 1981 to mark Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles. Diana is depicted in the Yellow Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace. Keep in mind she was 19 at this time. Crazy.
This detailed preparatory pencil sketch by the artist is stunning and shows how the portrait came to be:
Bryan Organ also painted this portrait of Prince Charles in 1980, which was the first portrait of the Prince to hang in the National Portrait Gallery. I like the relaxed nature of it, and the fact that Charles is shown wearing a sweatshirt with the Prince of Wales feathers. Of course:
Diana and Charles were such fans of the artist that they asked Bryan to be one of Prince Harry’s godfathers. Here he is with Harry at his confirmation at Eton:
Bryan also did this portrait of Prince Philip, which also hangs in the National Portrait Gallery:
So, what do you think of Kate’s portrait?
And if you’re in the mood for more portraits, check out these posts: