LONDON -- The Duchess of Cambridge seems to like her first official portrait, which is lucky for the artist. Many critics don't.
Paul Emsley's portrait of the former Kate Middleton shows the 31-year-old royal against a dark background, her lips pursed into a wry smile, with an ethereal light against her face and hair. Her pale complexion brings out the fine lines under the eyes, and the light adds a hint of silver to her rich brown hair.
Shortly after the portrait was unveiled Friday at the National Portrait Gallery in London, critics began grousing.
"It's a great, great opportunity missed," British Art Journal editor Robin Simon said. "The best thing you can say about it is that she doesn't actually look like that."
In a telephone interview, Simon said that Kate's nose was too large and that the painting drained the duchess of her sparkle.
Kate "transmits a sense of joie de vivre," he said. "This is dead, dead, dead."
Charlotte Higgins, arts writer for the Guardian newspaper, picked up on that theme, saying the portrait had a "sepulchral gloom" about it.