Archive Amid Social Media Backlash, Artist Defends Kate Middleton Portrait

Amid Social Media Backlash, Artist Defends Kate Middleton Portrait

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Amid Social Media Backlash, Artist Defends Kate Middleton Portrait

They say everyone's a critic, and for one professional artist, that's turned out to be true. Award-winning artist Paul Emsley has found out just how much criticism a social media-filled world can dish out be thanks to his recently released official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Despite what one can only presume was the artist's best effort, his official painting has received a mixed reaction, at best. While Middleton and Prince William have publicly said they like the work, it seems that many others do not. 

"Seriously, as a concept, what is it? It's like a giant Polaroid. Like she went into a photo booth and had that picture taken and blown up to a huge size, it would look more or less the same, wouldn't it?" Waldemar Januszczak, art critic for Britain's The Sunday Times, said.

Reaction on social media has also been harsh, with many users parodying the painting by comparing it with that of Cecilia Gimenez. The Spanish painter's restoration of an ancient religious fresco featuring Jesus gained Internet fame last year and spawned an entire industry of products bearing the image. 

However, Emsley, who has worked on a number of other portraits, including one of Nelson Mandela, defended his work of the smililing Duchess at the painting's unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery.  

"I think it was the right choice in the end to have her smiling. That's really who she is, I think," said Emsley.

The painting fits with Emsley's style in previous paintings, which he described on his website:

"In my drawings, I try to emphasize the singularity and silence of the form. By a careful balancing of tones, I emphasize the way in which light and shade fall across the subject. By creating a settled half-light, I try to transform the existence of the object from the ordinary to something more profound."

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