Thursday, 9 February 2012


So the Royal Corp has agreed that Princess Kate [I can’t be typing Duchess of Cambridge all the time] will sit for a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.  Which is only to be expected since in some far distant decade she will become Queen Consort and join NPG sitters stretching back to Catherine of Aragon whose key claim to fame is their marriage.  It’s good news for the NPG of course as a nice portrait, or even a nasty one, will attract the public, domestic and foreign, and right now all museums urgently need footfall and postcard sales.
But what kind of portrait?  Let’s hope not a photograph in the Testino-glamour mode, for Kate is already glammed up enough with flawless cosmetics and lustrously styled hair, to the extent of being indistinguishable from scores of current showbiz and fashionista celebs.   And if a painting, in what mode?  Roughly speaking two styles prevail –  flat matt acrylic with variations, as in Nicky Phillips’ portrait of Kate’s husband and brother-in-law, and glossy photo realism which harks back to high-finish painting.   In some ways Kate ought to be portrayed like young Victoria by Winterhalter – appropriate to her public role and appearance.  But that’s essentially the surface-glamour mode and while it’s true that Princess K has only this role to inhabit, nonetheless portraiture that aims below the surface is more interesting, as is that which aims beyond convention.  Paula Rego might portray Princess K well.   Or Allen Jones.  Or Maggi Hambling.   Kate could have choices of her own, which would also enhance the result.   Please, something really stylish, not air-brushed fashion-magazine image.

UPDATE, January 2013
The RESULT  :  more-or-less surface-glamour photo realism by Paul Emsley  that looks a bit like a hologram image
but with a curious half-smiling expression that in course of time may suggest Kate does not take the glossy high-fashion mode too seriously.

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