(AP) ó The first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge has been unveiled.
It was painted by the artist Paul Emsley and took several months using a technique of building thin layers of oil and glazes on canvas.
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 today at the National Portrait Gallery in London, critics began grousing.
"I'm really sad to say this is a rotten portrait," Daily Mail art critic Robin Simon said.
Guardian arts writer Charlotte Higgins said that Kate's mouth looked clenched, her eyes looked dead, and that the whole thing had "sepulchral gloom" about it.
Emsley told reporters at the opening that it was always going to be tough painting Kate, who sat for the portrait last year, before she became pregnant.
Royal portraits tend to veer between the staid and the controversial. Lucian Freud's 2001 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II remains a particularly notorious example, with some describing the heavy, severe painting of the monarch as deeply unflattering and others calling it groundbreaking.
In fairness to Emsley, some artists had praise for his work.
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