Kate Windsor’s portrait

The newly unveiled portrait of Kate Windor has proved to be quite a talking point. As usual with these matters. The subjects themselves are always delighted with the result. The Royal loyalists are always disappointed. The artists are castigated for being unfair; they present a distortion of reality, the true person.

Middleton_portraitWhilst this new portrait is as near as a photograph one is likely to get, the comments remain that it makes her look old; or as the Sun newspaper put it, looking like Ian Botham, former England cricketer (cue opportunity to post a picture of Ian Botham onto the newspaper’s website). It is also the fault, it seems, of the National Portrait Gallery for promoting the use of photographs by artists. Also, bad choice of artist. In this case the artist – Paul Emsley – is very good at doing animals.

Mrs Windsor and her husband are, true to form, said to be absolutely delighted by it.

What is great about art, and particularly portraiture, is that we get an opportunity to see the sitter through the eyes of another. I’m no artist, but I have been a life model and seen many depictions of my own body; I was always fascinated at how different emphases, light, angle, colour, perspective, etc., impacted on the outcome. It is not for me to say whether the likeness was true. In this case, if the artist thinks Kate Windsor has bags under he eyes and and Ian Botham’s nose then she has. I was not there when she sat for the artist, nor have I seen the photographs that he used.

Artists are artists because they see what most of us do not see – or in Kate Windsor’s case – be allowed to see stripped of normal media management.  If I had the opportunity to talk to Paul Emsley I would be inclined to say that I do not really like his portrait because I cannot see the point in hyper-reality. But even then, Emsley has subverted the perfection of the Kate Windsor fascade. That seems to be a problem for the ‘critics’. But that is the point of art.

Picture: screengrab, Sky News

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