GHOST OF KATE? Unflattering Official Portraits: Kate Middleton & More (PHOTOS)
The typically youthful and radiant Kate Middleton looks depressingly dull and old in her first official royal portrait. From Margaret Thatcher to George W. Bush, see more questionable artistic renderings.
It’s a pretty impressive feat to make the flawless Kate Middleton look unflattering, so perhaps British artist Paul Emsley should be commended on his polarizing new
official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge. Though Middleton graciously smiled and praised the work, many critics are savaging it for more accurately capturing the ghost of Kate Middleton than Kate Middleton herself. But perhaps it’s just a hazing. The duchess now joins an illustrious list of notables forced to feign delight awkwardly while standing alongside questionable official portraits.
“Ghastly.” “Dull.” “Lifeless.” The first official portrait of Kate Middleton is being called
so bad by art critics that The Daily Beast’s own Royalist, Tom Sykes, wonders, “Will the artist be sent to the tower for the hideous picture?” Totally failing to capture Middleton’s youthful beauty, Paul Emsley perhaps was “aiming to show us what Kate would look like if she was 20 years older, smoked, never washed her hair, and ate junk food,” Sykes suggests.
John Phillips/UK Press, via Getty Prince Harry and Prince William
In 2010 royal brothers Harry and William were given a historic dual portrait, depicting the princes “
in casual conversation.” While not considered the disaster that Middleton’s portrait is being branded, the boys seem to be suffering the painful awkwardness that seems always to strike when someone instructs you to “pose like you’re relaxed.” Prince Harry’s own review was hardly a rave and more of a roast of his brother: “I don’t know, I’m a little bit more ginger in there than I am in real life, I think, I don’t know, and [William] got given more hair so, apart from that, it is what it is, but no, it’s nice, it could have been worse.”
The Iron Lady is looking a little smudged. The 2006 portrait of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was, fittingly, constructed from silk chiffon and rusted iron by artist Benjamin Shine. Thatcher can hardly contain her enthusiasm.
Pool photo by John Stillwell Queen Elizabeth
Here, Queen Elizabeth views a portrait of herself painted by Peter Hawkins at its unveiling in 1997. Aside from afflicting the queen with a severe case of rosacea and an accentuated toothy smile, the portrait bears quite an accurate resemblance to the beloved royal.
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth by John Napper in 1953
How awful does a photo have to be to be banished for 60 years? Ask Queen Elizabeth II: this portrait was finished in 1953 and was then
banished from Liverpool Town Hall after critics said it looked nothing like her and her neck was “too long.” It’s spent the past 60 years in storage as a result. Napper himself wasn’t even pleased with the painting, saying at the time that it was a “beautiful paining of a queen, but not this queen.” He must have done something to win back the royals’ admiration: he later painted a second portrait that was accepted and eventually painted an official portrait of Prince Charles in 1996.
Jonathan Yeo/Lincoln's Inn, via AP Tony Blair
You’d be forgiven for not realizing that Tony Blair is the man in his official portrait, as the eye is immediately drawn instead to the red poppy on his lapel. Artist Jonathan Yeo included the poppy in the painting, unveiled in 2008, as a symbol of the many wars Blair led the nation into while prime minister. Yeo’s “painting uses a classic strategy of the traditional portrait artist when dealing with a sitter’s disfigurement,”
wrote Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. “In paintings by Goya or Ghirlandaio people defiantly sport a physical blemish. Blair sports his horrific political blemish.”
George W. Bush
Presidential portrait or
senior class photo? No one could accuse former president George W. Bush of not looking at ease in the 2008 portrait painted by his Yale classmate Robert Anderson. Bush apparently insisted on the informal pose, and Anderson said his goal was to portray the president in a “personal and conversational manner.” The wallet-size version is going to look great on grandma’s fridge.
Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post, via Getty Laura Bush
Former first lady Laura Bush, also a former librarian, famously advocated literacy and reading during her tenure in White House. No one can doubt her commitment to the initiative, with Bush going so far as to pose as if she were reading a book in her own portrait by Aleksander Titovets, also unveiled in 2008.
While the Hillary Clinton portrayed in the former first lady’s official 2004 portrait may look absolutely nothing like the real person, at least the pantsuit she’s wearing makes the intended identity of the person in the painting unmistakable.
It’s like looking in a mirror. A funhouse mirror. While Bill Clinton’s official portrait bears a much more impressive likeness to the president than his wife’s painting did to her, the look on the now notoriously
health-conscious and svelte politician’s face indicates severe concern that he’s looking a little fat in the rendering.
Denmark’s Princess Mary actually looks quite regal and lovely in the painting hanging at the Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. But that doesn’t negate the trippiness of the real royal standing in front of the life-size portrait of herself.
Sen. Arlen Specter
The late Republican-turned-Democratic senator Arlen Specter was
lovingly described as “always a fighter” and “one of the true wild cards of Washington politics” when he passed away in October 2012. One must wonder, then, why the man known for his fiery passion looks, well, asleep in his 2008 portrait commissioned by Yale University.
This portrait of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was unveiled in 2011 in the Ways and Means Committee Room in Washington, D.C. He sure looks shiny.