Friday, January 11, 2013

Kate Middleton's Portrait, Trash or Treasure?

Some love it but more hate it, Catherine (Kate) Duchess of Cambridge's first official portrait.

Since I spent several decades doing portraiture I can add my two cents into this kerfuffle as to whether or not this portrait of the lovely Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge cuts the mustard. Well, there are aspects that are nicely done, like her eyes, but, they seem dead, not like the sparkle that she has naturally. Here we have a beautiful subject, full of life with gorgeous chestnut hair but in this portrait, she looks much older than her years and the life is literally sucked out of her by the choice of the flat dead background.

Doing a portrait is more than just getting a realistic likeness (which the artist hasn't quite nailed). It's about getting the inner spirit of that person, the qualities that animate them, getting that across as well. In this, I am sorry to say, I feel that the artist has failed.

Unfortunately this portrait has the quality of a black velvet painting that gets sold out of back of vans on the intersections of state highways and busy town intersections in the summer. This is a woman in the summer of her beauty and life. One could do a portrait that would illustrate the inner private life without the dour, dark sombre colour choices. It looks like a grisaille painting and that just doesn't resonate quite right. I feel badly for the artist Paul Emsley as there are aspects that are quite lovely, but overall, it's a miss I am afraid.

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