Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Paul Emsley Photo-Realistic Style Captures Kate Middleton's Timeless Beauty

Artist Paul Emsley poses next to his portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
The portrait is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Photo Source: MSN News
© AP Photo/Sang Tan, 2013

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Paul Emsley’s photographic style is somewhat controversial among art critics, and many believe he butchered the most popular royal since Princess Diana. It may be that he has given the Duchess of Cambridge a timeless beauty, an ageless wisdom that she will “grow into” in the coming years. Or it may be that he has captured her perfectly with his photo-realistic style, and that this is indeed the face of a grown young woman who is already learning to balance a private inner life with a very public outer life.

True to Kate’s wishes, Mr. Emsley worked tirelessly over the course of several months to capture her natural self, which he describes from his two sittings with her as “enormously open and generous” {National Portrait}. He took many photographs of her during their time together, and in their final sitting at KensingtonPalace, he allowed her to choose which photograph he would use for the portrait.

In his early days as a painter Mr. Emsley “worked from life,” but his anxiety over the comfort of his subjects and the advances in photographic precision have shaped his current practice of working primarily from photographs. From the original image, he made close-ups of the details around her eyes, her mouth, her cheekbones, and her hair. It is perhaps this close-up quality, combined with his characteristic dark background, that has most rankled the art critics, many of whom believe that the portrait ages her by ten years or more. The Duchess, however, did not appear rankled in the least by this portrayal of her. It is said that she praised it highly, as did her husband, Prince William.

Unlike the public, who is used to her enhanced media photos, Kate and William must have appreciated the subtle nuances, including the wrinkles around her mouth and her unique cheekbone structure. Perhaps it is wise to take cues from them. Perhaps this is the truest representation of the Duchess that we have seen to date.

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