This is the first official painted portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Duchess was involved in the selection and interviewing process, from which artist Paul Emsley was chosen by Director Sandy Nairne to paint her official portrait. Emsley was the 2007 winner of the Gallery’s BP Portrait Award competition. The Duchess took part in an initial meeting to talk through the process of the painting. This was followed by two sittings at the artist's studio and Kensington Palace. Emsley later made use of a series of photographs produced during the sittings. His subjects are frequently located against a dark background and emphasise ‘the singularity and silence of the form’; while utilising a meticulous technique of thin layers of oil paint and glazes. Paul Emsley says: ‘The Duchess explained that she would like to be portrayed naturally - her natural self - as opposed to her official self. She struck me as enormously open and generous and a very warm person. 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.’ This is a National Portrait Gallery commission given by Sir Hugh Leggatt through the Art Fund in memory of Sir Denis Mahon.


The artist.

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