Kate Middleton and Beauty

Kate Middleton Portrait


Just saw this on the Huffington Post – Kate Middleton has a new portrait in the national portrait gallery. Their comment was that Kate might want to “untag” this one. It doesn’t seem to capture her particularly well. It definitely isn’t flattering. But I have never met Kate Middleton, my access to the way that she looked has come mediated through the airbrushed photos on magazine covers. Perhaps this is an accurate description of the reality of Kate, rather than being true to the media manipulated image of her.

I am beginning to wonder whether a portrait gallery is a good idea. What does it say about us as a culture that we want to look at the face of someone historic in isolation from reflection on their character, their moral legacy, their creative contribution, their words, their friendships?






7 thoughts on “Kate Middleton and Beauty”

  1. I would hope that a good portrait also gives an impression of character, values and what makes them ‘them’. That is why this one isn’t a good portrait. It simply aims to tell us what she looks like, and doesn’t quite get that right.

    1. Now I would have thought looking at it that it DID show some indication of “character” as opposed to just making a picture of a beautiful woman. Quite a strong, principled person with a sense of humour. Whether that is an accurate portrayal of the subject’s character I wouldn’t know as I’ve never met her.

  2. Quite right Tall Andrew. Krish those are good questions, though similar questions might be asked of big elements of Facebook. Also before the Camera, why not have a picture painted of the family? In law the concept of “a likeness” has always interested me… It doesn’t sound as precise as a modernistic understanding of what is really real, which intrigues me…

  3. I think a portrait gallery is a GREAT idea! But we shouldn’t expect it to give us the full experience of ‘knowing’ the people portrayed.

    A portrait tells us much more than just a name, but not as much as a chat over a coffee. It takes time to get to know someone, years probably. And the process is never complete.

    And as far as the culture goes, concluding that we want to look at a famous face in isolation of character and the rest, hmm… not sure I can accept that assertion!

    I suspect many would love to meet some famous people and spend time getting know them – might it just be lack of opportunity?

    But I do take your point, Krish. Our society tends to be shallow, we often just bounce off one another. That is not a good thing at all.

  4. I do agree with Chris – at its best portraiture is not about celebrity, let alone superficial snapshots. A great portrait should communicate a narrative about the subject – character, yes, but also history, conflicts and the effects of life. It was interesting, for instance, that Jonathan Yeo’s portrait of Tony Blair a few years back ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7197426.stm ) did all of that – for not only did his face show the years of strain from high office (how different he looks now with his permatan and millionaire lifestyle), but the painting’s most prominent feature other than his face was the red poppy. Fascinating. Ironic? not in Blair’s mind, but perhaps for the viewer.

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