Kate Middleton's Official Portrait Unveiled At National Portrait Gallery
Kate Middleton's first official painted portrait was unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery. It was commissioned by the gallery where it was revealed today, Friday, 11 January 2013. The unveiling was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, her parents Carole and Michael Middleton along with sister Pippa and brother James. The painting will go on public display from 2.30pm this afternoon. The dark painting by the BP award winning artist Paul Emsley shows a more serious side to the Duchess. The portrait of the NPG Patron was commissioned by the Gallery with funds given by Sir Hugh Leggatt, in memory of Sir Denis Mahon, through the Art Fund.
The Duchess of Cambridge was involved in the selection process, from which artist Paul Emsley, the 2007 winner of the Gallery’s BP Portrait Award competition, was chosen by Director Sandy Nairne to paint her official portrait. The Duchess took part in an initial meeting to talk through the process of the painting. This was followed by two sittings, in May and June 2012, at the artist's studio in the West Country, England, and Kensington Palace. Emsley later made use of a series of photographs produced during the sittings. His subjects are frequently located against a dark background and emphasise ‘the singularity and silence of the form’, while utilising a meticulous technique of thin layers of oil paint and glazes.
Paul Emsley says: ‘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.’
Following three-and-a-half months of painting, the completed portrait was presented to the Gallery’s Trustees at their November 2012 meeting.
Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, now The Duchess of Cambridge, was born in Berkshire and attended Marlborough College. The Duchess studied at the British Institute in Florence before enrolling at the University of St Andrews in Fife to study History of Art. She married Prince William of Wales at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. In January 2012, St. James’s Palace announced The Duchess’s acceptance of five honorary positions, one of which was a Patronage of the National Portrait Gallery. Her first solo public engagement was the opening of its Lucian Freud Portraits exhibition and The Duchess has shown a keen interest in portraiture and photography.
Glasgow-born Paul Emsley (b.1947) grew up in South Africa before moving to England in 1996. He won first prize in the BP Portrait Award in 2007 for his striking large-scale study of the face of his neighbouring artist Michael Simpson. His previous commissions have included the author V S Naipaul (2009) and Nelson Mandela (2010). He is represented by the Redfern Gallery of London and is associated with Brundyn + Gonsalves Gallery in South Africa. (www.paulemsley.com)
Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘It is an exciting moment to display the first commissioned public portrait of the National Portrait Gallery's Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge. I am grateful to The Duchess for giving time for sittings, to Paul Emsley for creating such a captivating contemporary image, and to Sir Hugh Leggatt and the Art Fund for this gift.’
Stephen Deuchar, Director, the Art Fund, says: ‘The unveiling of a first official portrait of a royal sitter is always an important and intriguing moment, defining and enshrining their public image in a new way. We are delighted that Sir Hugh Leggatt chose to make this gift to the British public and the National Portrait Gallery through the Art Fund.’
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge by Paul Emsley is on display now as part of the Contemporary Collections in the Lerner Galleries, Room 36, Ground Floor, National Portrait Gallery, Admission free
Watch Video Here a bit laughable!