At first, Paul Emsley tried to remain diplomatic about the criticism he faced for his portrait of Kate Middleton, but those barbs took a toll on the artist. “Some of the words written about it were so personal. I’d be inhuman if I said it didn’t affect me,” he told Hello! in January 2013. “I didn’t expect it to go to the levels it did,” Emsley said while adding that it was particularly difficult on his family. Initially, the backlash was so intense that Emsley began to question his own work, but eventually, he was able to tune out the critics. “There is nothing I would have changed,” he said about the piece. “I believe half the problem is the portrait doesn’t photograph well.”

The following year, another portrait artist took a stab at capturing Middleton’s essence on canvas. Scottish artist Tom Sutton-Smith made a portrait that was eventually seen by the Princess of Wales. “The painting was done from a picture, and it was difficult to get a picture of Kate not smiling,” Sutton-Smith told Royal Central in June 2014. “There seems to be a trend to do super-realistic portraits, and I was trying [the] opposite.”

Middleton and Prince William stopped by Perthshire Open Studios in June 2014 where they viewed the portrait. “She was wowed by it,” Glenys Andrews, who ran the studio, told Vanity Fair about the couple’s reaction. Years later, the Emsley portrait went missing from the public eye.

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