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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

by Paul Emsley
oil on canvas, 2012
45 3/8 in. x 38 in. (1152 mm x 965 mm)
Commissioned and given by Sir Hugh Leggatt in memory of Sir Denis Mahon through the Art Fund, 2012
Primary Collection
NPG 6956

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Paul Emsley (1947-), Artist. Artist or producer of 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Glasgow-born artist Paul Emsley grew up in South Africa and won first prize in the BP Portrait Award (2007). Painting Her Royal Highness at the beginning of her public life, The Duchess was able to give Emsley two sittings, the first at Kensington Palace and the second at the artist's studio. Emsley's subjects are frequently located against a dark background and emphasize, 'the singularity and silence of the form'.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 7002: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (finished work)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Portraits, p. 150
  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 225 Read entry

    In 2011, the Duke of Cambridge married Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, and Paul Emsley's portrait of the new duchess was painted the following year to mark her role as patron of the National Portrait Gallery. Emsley had two sittings with the newest Windsor, at Kensington Palace and in his studio. The large-scale head-and-shoulders format is unusual in royal portraiture, with an immediacy that directly connects sitter and viewer. The duchess holds a degree in art history from the University of St Andrews and was directly involved in selecting the artist for this portrait. Since starting a family, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become increasingly involved with charitable causes that support young people.

  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 273
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 279 Read entry

    Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, now Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, was born in Berkshire and attended Marlborough College. She studied at the British Institute in Florence before enrolling at the University of St Andrews in Fife to study history of art. She married His Royal Highness Prince William at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. In February 2012, St James’s Palace announced her patronage of five charities, one of which is the National Portrait Gallery.

    Glasgow-born artist Paul Emsley (b.1947) grew up in South Africa and won first prize in the 2007 BP Portrait Award. The Duchess sat for Emsley twice, at Kensington Palace and in the artist’s studio. Emsley’s subjects are frequently located against a dark background and are imbued with an imaginative, almost ethereal quality. This portrait depicts the Duchess at an important time: the beginning of her public life in Britain.

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