A newly-commissioned portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, by artist Paul Emsley hangs at the National Portrait Gallery in London, Jan. 11, 2013. / AP Photo/Sang Tan
Artist Paul Emsley is defending the official portrait he painted of the Duchess of Cambridge, which was subjected to harsh criticism following its unveiling last month.
The former Kate Middleton called the painting "brilliant" but others weren't as kind, with some critics saying the portrait made her look older than her 31 years.
The criticism led Emsley to create an alternate portrait of Kate. In that one, according to The Washington Post, the duchess "appears bright-eyed and young, refreshed, even playful."
Emsley told the Post that creating that portrait, which he would not allow to be photographed, made him certain that the canvas now hanging in London's National Portrait Galley is the better version.
"There's a quotation an American friend of mine, the wife of an American artist, sent me in support," he said during the interview. "When Picasso was told his portrait of Gertrude Stein did not look like her, his response was, 'It will.' People will become acclimatized over time to something which is not something that they were expecting."
"I did not deliberately age her or anything like that," Emsley added. "I wanted it to be an authentic record, but it's very easy to put in more shadows and things than are perfectly necessary, and I haven't done that. I've tried to record, in a polite way, what I regard as her natural beauty."
Emsley also told the Post that he's brushed off the negative feedback the portrait has received.
"Critics have a job to do," he said. "I understand that. It's not just to criticize. They're trying to interpret art for the public. That's fine. I understand why they do it, but I'm not particularly interested. I honestly wouldn't really take their opinions too seriously."
He added, "I have to accept the fact that there are many people that don't like the portrait, and that's fine. As an artist, you do understand you're never going to please everybody."
Read Emsley's full interview with the Washington Post here.