Paul Emsley – the man who became the first to immortalise Kate Middleton's royal persona – has revealed he has not one, but two, portraits of his famous subject.
In the interview with The Washington Post, the British artist also gave an insight into the Duchess of Cambdridge's personality. "I found her to be remarkable," he said. "She really does have genuine, spontaneous warmth about her. I also found her to be very perceptive … She was interested and had interesting things to say.
"But the main thing I would say about her is … She is someone who makes you feel very relaxed."
Perhaps it was that impressionable character that compelled him to paint the Duchess twice. Paul says a secret version of the portrait, which currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, is stowed away in his studio.
In the out-take, he says the pregnant royal "appears bright-eyed and young, refreshed, even playful". He won't allow the creation to be photographer, however.
In January, when Kate saw the official version, she described it as "brilliant, amazing, and absolutely brilliant". But despite her enthusiastic reaction, public opinion has been somewhat more divided.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO!, Paul recently revealed how he and his family were hurt by some of the acerbic comments which surrounded what is arguably the most important work of his career.
"Some of the words written about it were so personal. I'd be inhuman if I said it didn't affect me," Mr Emsley admitted. "When you take on commissions like this it is hazardous and you expect a bit of flak, but I expected nothing like the criticism I have received. I didn't expect it to go to the levels it did.
"It felt like a bit of a witch hunt and people who have not even seen my portrait joined in with what quickly became a circus. The worst thing is it was not only destructive to me, but particularly upsetting for my two daughters and my wife.
"It really wasn't pleasant and I stopped reading what had been written. I have coped with the criticism by going back into my studio and getting on with it.
"At first the attacks were so vicious that there was a point where I myself doubted that the portrait of the Duchess was any good. But now I've had time to reflect, I am still happy with it and am getting on with my life. There is nothing I would have changed."
The work took three-and-a-half months to complete using a technique of building thin layers of oil and glazes on canvas. The painting, which is titled HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, will be displayed as part of the National Portrait Gallery's Contemporary Collections.
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