Photo: Paul Emsley/UK
When artist Paul Emsley unveiled his official portrait of Kate Middleton, the world was surprised to see the beautiful Duchess of Cambridge’s not as attractive painting.The press was somewhat harsh, calling Middleton’s first official portrait “ghostly” and “an aesthetic disaster.”
There have even been countless internet memes dedicated to making fun of the portrait >
But now, for the first time since the much-hyped portrait’s unveiling, the 65-year-old artist is speaking out against what he calls were “vicious” criticisms.
“Some of the words written about it were so personal. I’d be inhuman if I said it didn’t affect me,” the award-winning artist told Hello! “When you take on commissions like this, it is hazardous and you expect a bit of flak, but I expected nothing like the criticism I have received. I didn’t expect it to go to the levels it did.”
While Prince William described the piece as “absolutely beautiful” and Middleton herself said it was “amazing” and “brilliant,” Emsley said the backlash was like a “witch hunt” and “circus” that took an emotional toll on his two daughters and his wife.
“At first the attacks were so vicious that there was a point where I myself doubted that the portrait of the duchess was any good. But now I’ve had time to reflect, I am still happy with it and am getting on with my life. There is nothing I would have changed,” said Emsley, who spent four months on the portrait.
But Emsley says that perhaps his painting just isn’t photographing well, and he suggests you visit it in the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery before knocking his work.
After sitting for Emsley on two occasions, in May and June of last year, the artist says of his royal subject:
“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.”
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