Kate Middleton's official portrait shows her in her natural state.
Today, the National Portrait Gallery in London unveiled the official portrait of Kate Middleton. And it's less than flattering. While skilled in execution, using several layers of oil paint, Middleton looks tired for her age, already appearing to have weathered in her role as Duchess of Cambridge in the U.K. Royal Family. She comes off almost Mona Lisa-like in her appearance, neither smiling nor grimacing.
But there's a reason her likeness isn't as polished and poised as one would expect from a Royal portrait. Middleton expressly asked for her image to appear natural, not official. To be sure of this request Paul Emsley—known for his hyper-realistic style that shows pores, grey hairs, and the like—was chosen as the artist for the commission.
By appearing natural, the Duchess, who studied art history at university, took a risk. Perhaps she was aiming to bridge the class divide with the simple portrait, not giving the air that she's holier than thou. In the video below, art historian Christopher Lloyd explains, "You are in fact looking at somebody that you could have quite easily passed in the street only a few minutes ago, as a totally anonymous person…indeed other painters will go on and show her more splendidly, I imagine, with those regal and royal attributes that one expects in Royal portraiture."
By appearing true to life, it's a message to women and girls that it's okay to be yourself, wrinkles and all. Perhaps this message would actually have fund its mark, had the media not panned the painting so harshly.
Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London