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Kate Middleton First Portrait Unveiled: ‘It’s Just Amazing,’ Says The Duchess

The official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge, by Paul Emsley

Take a look at the first official painting of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, more usually known as Kate Middleton.

Simply called [Her Royal Higness] HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, the first commissioned public portrait of Kate will be displayed as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Contemporary Collections in central London.

Painted by Scottish artist Paul Emsley — a previous winner of the BP Portrait Award — the portrait was three and a half months in the making and used a technique of building thin layers of oil and glazes on canvas.

Past celebrity subjects of Emsley include Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, and the author V S Naipaul. The duchess sat for the artist twice, once in May 2012 and again in June at Kensington Palace.

Emsley also worked from photographs that he took of Catherine and says it was easier to work from these after his initial meeting with Kate, BBC News reports.

“I’m always worried about the sitter – are they cold, are they hot, are they comfortable? Photography today is so accurate and so good that it’s really so much easier just to take photographs and work from them,” he said.

Emsley was chosen to paint the portrait jointly by the National Portrait gallery’s director, Sandy Nairne, and by Kate herself.

This may be due to the fact that Kate studied history of art at St. Andrews University, which, incidentally, was where she met her now husband, Prince William. The couple are expecting their first child, which is due in the summer.

The official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge, by Paul Emsley

According to BBC News, Emsley originally planned to produce an unsmiling portrait. But, apparently, after meeting the duchess he changed his mind. “I think it was the right choice in the end to have her smiling. That’s really who she is, I think,” he said.

As well as revealing that Kate asked to be portrayed as naturally as possible rather than a more formal pose, the 66-year-old artist said of the simple blue-black background color:

“I don’t have lots of things in the background. I do like large faces, I find them strong and contemporary. I’m interested in the landscape of the face, the way in which light and shadow fall across the forms. That’s really my subject matter.To have anything else in there is really just an interference.”

Emsley says he was keen to highlight what he considers Kate’s best known feature.”Everyone, I think, recognizes her partly through her lovely hair,” he said. “I’ve altered the color of the eyes slightly to match the colour of the blouse and the blue background.”

So, the big question is, what did Kate think of the finished portrait?

Well, this morning, ahead of the the portrait going on show to the public this afternoon, Kate and Prince William saw the portrait in a private viewing for the first time.

The royal couple spent about 10 minutes looking at the portrait then met up with Emsley and his wife Susanne and their daughter Marie.

Kate’s verdict? “It’s just amazing, I thought it was brilliant.”

William also praised the portrait, saying: “It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful.”

The pair were then joined at a private breakfast reception at the gallery to mark the unveiling by Kate’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton and her brother and sister, James and Pippa, the Huffington Post notes.

It certainly beats the Lego version.

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