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article imageKate, Duchess of Cambridge: First official portrait unveiled

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By Eileen Kersey     Jan 11, 2013 in Arts
London - The first official painting of the Duchess of Cambridge, nee Kate Middleton, has been unveiled today. It will go on display later today at London's National Portrait Gallery, of which the duchess is patron.
On January 9, 2013, Kate Middleton celebrated her 31st birthday. Pregnant, and having been unwell recently, Kate spent a 'quiet' day with husband William, the Duke of Cambridge.
Kate 'went public' in the early stages of her pregnancy, much earlier than is usual. This was due to her experiencing severe morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum, which is a rare and very debilitating condition. It can, however, run in families. Due to her health Kate has not been in the public eye so much lately.
A portrait commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, is another first for Kate. The portrait once unveiled, today, will be displayed as part of the National Portrait Gallery's Contemporary Collections. It is simply called, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.
Painted by Paul Emsley, it has had mixed reviews. According to the BBC 'Sunday Times Art Critic Waldemar Januszczak says the work is "disappointing"'. It has been described though as 'amazing' reports the Huffington Post. The portrait was painted over several months using a specific technique. Artist Paul used a technique of 'building thin layers of oil and glazes on canvas'.
Paul said that Kate wanted the portrait to show the 'real' her, not the official Duchess of Cambridge. It has a smoky, ethereal quality to it. Kate sat for the artist in May 2012 at his studio. She did so again, this time at Kensington Palace, in June. In between the artist used a phographic image of Kate.
Artist Paul, in describing the portrait as simple said, I don't have lots of things in the background. I do like large faces, I find them strong and contemporary. I'm interested in the landscape of the face, the way in which light and shadow fall across the forms. That's really my subject matter. To have anything else in there is really just an interference.
The pregnant Duchess needed a brief period in hospital, in December, due to hyperemisis gravidarum. A prank hoax call, via an Australian radio station backfired,when a nurse at the hospital fell for the call. It purported to be from the Queen and, once the caller was passed to the ward nurse, confidential information was handed over. Jacintha Saldanha, the first nurse to answer the call, committed suicide a few days later.
A postcard of the portrait is available at the gallery. Some rooms in the gallery were closed this morning due to the Duchess of Cambridge event. The National Portrait Gallery is located in London. According to the gallery's press release, The first official painted portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, where it is unveiled today Friday 11 January 2013, on show to the public from 2.30pm. The National Portrait Gallery’s painting of its Patron was commissioned by the Gallery, and given by Sir Hugh Leggatt, in memory of Sir Denis Mahon, through the Art Fund.
The Duke and Duchess attended a private showing, Friday morning, at the National Portrait Gallery. The Duchess has no other official engagements scheduled for the near future.
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