"The creation of art is not the fulfillment of a need but the creation of a need.
The world never needed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony until he created it. Now we could not live without it."

-Louis I. Kahn, Architect

Sunday, 14 July 2013

"Expectations": my portrait of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

This is my response to artist Paul Emsley, a 2007 winner of the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award for portrait painting. 
Few have shown some disappointment, because my portrait "doesn't look like a photograph" and that she is not "glamorous" enough, not "smiling" as she uses to, etc. (Then why a painting? What about Kate Moss by Lucian Freud?) 
In my paintings I always focus on the personality of the subject and try to avoid the distraction of pomp and 'perfection' attached to an officially commissioned portrait. 
My portrait's title is 'Expectations' as there are so many, and at different levels, from those of a future mother and beyond.
I therefore find painting her "branded smile" to be inappropriate, from my perspective.
Hence the title, because many "expect" so much from a portrait!  
I dared painting her as a real person. 
If it is a crime, I apologize.
 © Paul Emsley (2013)






For the record: I am a Republican in the tradition of a Thomas Paine, I am not a monarchist. I therefore consider monarchy as an institution belonging to the past and should remain there. Although I disagree politically with the institution, I respect persons such as Kate Middleton.

Note: Kate Middleton and Prince William left St Mary's Hospital on July 23 with the royal baby boy in tow. Watching live, I was amazed by how much Kate Middleton looks like the portrait I did in mid-May. I called it "Expectations" adding a sunny background since I painted with that day in mind. Yes the day the baby was born was sunny and once she appeared outside of the hospital with him, she looked so much like my painting, especially her hair (for which some harshly criticized me). I was right, my  critics were wrong. PS: I am not a psychic.

12 comments:

  1. Yes I agree, if the "soul" of Kate Middleton was to be captured in these portraits by both artists then they both succeeded. Its Kate behind the glamorous camera lens and the perfectly chosen picture that aims for unrealistic perfection. Both these paintings may be off a bit in facial features however it is the artist's eye that paints their perception of a real person. Again, they have both succeeded. Viewers not understanding the premise to their amazing artistry are expecting another camera lens shot,when in fact would be even more disappointing considering its a portrait by hand, a unique and amazingly gifted human hand that could , and should only reflect what is coming directly from the artist's self perception...and perhaps their souls as well. Beautiful work by both. Kathy Bandera Boston, Ma

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  2. Both portraits are the REAL her! The first one you can see how he was thinking how preposterous the whole official portrait thing is and in the second which is the beginning of her pregnancy you can still see how she is still feeling her way in the new world she waited 10 years to get entry into.She still doesn't feel content yet.

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  3. well, it sounds like the ego of another artist.
    The one at the end of this post, Kate in blue, is much more appropriate and realistic. You have to remember, she is royalty and must be good at all times in the view of the public....The "artist" must take responsibility for the mistake and apologize, not make excuses. He's fortunate to live in the century where forgiveness and mistakes are accepted. I tell you this, he will no longer have work for their family or command the price he used to, untill he is dead....
    Good on the royals for being so polite, as I would have asked for his head.

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  4. when you say "the artist" or "he", who are you talking about? (we have names btw), especially if you ask "for his head"!

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  5. Yves Messer, continue on to share your gift from God, and as difficult as it may be as an artist to endure such cruel criticism you must continue to remember that those who are most critical are limited with inner beauty, thus resulting in mean, hateful and hurtful judgment. They are simply blind... and you, the chosen man have been given immeasurable sight and talent that you must continue to share...it's actually your duty to do so...and we the viewers are privileged to see such a miracle from the human hand. If you are ever looking for an American Boston teacher to paint, please let me know I would sit and pose for light years. Much love, Kathy from Boston

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    1. Thank you Kathleen for your supportive comments. :-)

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  6. I honestly love your painting so much more than the other. It looks like you captured her as a real person, someone that actually thinks and hopes and feels. I just think the other is the face of a woman who has to put on a "public face",artificial and cold.

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    1. Thank you. I wrote exactly that to The Duchess : "In my paintings I always focus on the personality of the subject and try to avoid the distraction of pomp and 'perfection' attached to an officially commissioned portrait. I hope I have succeeded in a fair rendering of your personality. I have attempted to paint you in the way I think most people in the country see you. The portrait's title is 'Expectations' as there are so many, and at different levels, from those of a future mother and beyond."

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    2. I hope she liked as much as so many of us do :) You have amazing talent.

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    3. Thank you Kristi. Me too hopes she does.

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  7. June 11. Received an official thanking letter from Kate Middleton's private secretary for my portrait.

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