Duchess of Cambridge: Official Portrait Is "Brilliant"

The Duchess wanted to be portrayed as her "natural self" and is thrilled with her painted portrait.

By An Phung
|  Friday, Jan 11, 2013  |  Updated 10:11 AM CDT
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Duchess of Cambridge: Official Portrait Is "Brilliant"

AFP/Getty Images

Media representatives gather in front of British artist Paul Emsley's portrait of Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in central London on Jan. 11, 2013. This is the first official portrait of the Duchess and was completed after two sittings at the artist's studio and Kensington Palace.

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The first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled Friday at London's National Portrait Gallery — and whatever the critics say, Kate herself thinks it's "absolutely brilliant."

Artist Paul Emsley worked closely with the Duchess to capture what she calls her "natural self" which meant Kate was depicted with a smile, rather than a straight face.

"She struck me as enormously open and generous and a very warm person," Emsley said. "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."

Art critics, however, slammed the portrait, saying it looks nothing like her.

"I'm really sad to say this is a rotten portrait," said Robin Simon, editor of the British Art Journal and Daily Mail art critic.

Waldemar Januszczak, art critic for the Sunday Times, called the portrait "pretty ordinary."

"He made her look older than she is, and her eyes don't sparkle in the way that they do and there's something rather dour about the face," Januszczak told the BBC.

Emsley took the liberty of slightly changing Kate's green eye color and earring to match the blue background and the blouse she was wearing.

The Duchess had two sittings with Emsley last summer, once at his studio and again at Kensington Palace, according to the Prince of Wales website. He also used a series of photographs to paint the details of her face and hair.

The portrait was completed in three and a half months.

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