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Kate Middleton's portrait unveiled in London

January 11, 2013|By Nardine Saad

Kate Middleton's official portrait has been unveiled. Prince William's wife's likeness can now be seen in Britain's National Portrait Gallery — but not everyone is in love with what they see.

The painting, by Scottish artist Paul Emsley, who also painted South Africa's Nelson Mandela in his photographic style, was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in London, where William and Kate saw the portrait for the first time on Friday before it was open to public viewing.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 31, said that she wanted "to be portrayed naturally — her natural self — as opposed to her official self," Emsley said in the New York Daily News.

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The frontal-view oil painting displays Kate's flowing brunet locks on a dark background and lightens her green eyes. Emsley did that to match the dark blouse she was wearing, he said. But he also adds bags under and creases around her eyes.

"When I work with a portrait, I push it beyond just Realism, so I always had faith that I would go beyond that and find something original, and I think the fact that we got a half smile, or we've got a smile with a closed mouth, does make it slightly unique in that sense," he told the Associated Press.

"She struck me as an enormously open and generous and a very warm person," Emsley told ABC News. "After initially feeling it was going to be an unsmiling portrait, I think it was the right choice in the end to have her smiling — that is really who she is."

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Kate sat twice for the portrait, which took 3½ months to create, once in May and then in June before she became pregnant.

"It's beautiful. It's absolutely beautiful," said William, the Duke of Cambridge.

But the portrait isn't doing it for art critics, who have slammed Emsley's work. A few of the critiques: The portrait looks nothing like her, ages her and makes her nose look big.

"He made her look older than she is and her eyes don’t sparkle in the way that they do, and there’s something rather dour about the face,” the Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak told BBC News.

Kate "transmits a sense of joie-de-vivre," British Art Journal editor Robin Simon told the Associated Press. "This is dead, dead, dead."

"In my drawings I try to emphasize the singularity and silence of the form," according to Emsley's bio on his website. "By a careful balancing of tones I emphasise the way in which light and shade fall across the subject. By creating a settled half-light I try to transform the existence of the object from the ordinary to something more profound."

But apparently that light seems to make Kate's beautiful brown hair grayer than it is in real life.

What do you think of the portrait?

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Follow Nardine Saad on Twitter @NardineSaad and Google +. Follow the Ministry of Gossip @LATcelebs.

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