Friday, June 24, 2022

First official portrait of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveiled at Fitzwilliam Museum

Yesterday morning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to see a new portrait of them both. This is the first official joint portrait. 

It was painted by British portrait artist Jamie Coreth. The artwork was commissioned in 2021 by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund as a gift to the people of Cambridgeshire. It also marks the Duke's recent 40th birthday - on Tuesday this week.

More about both the portrait and the painter below.

During their visit, Their Royal Highnesses met with Jamie Coreth, supporters of the project, and Lady Sibyl Marshall – the wife of the late Sir Michael Marshall, who originally proposed the idea to create the portrait.

Personally I think it's a very good likeness of both of them on a formal occasion - and I particularly like the way has captured Prince William's quizzical grin.

However the portrait has generated some criticism in some quarters - for many of the same reasons as people criticised a portrait of Catherine by Paul Emsley. You can read about that in my post Paul Emsley and the Duchess of Cambridge - two videos and a drawing (January 2013).

Yet again people are complaining that neither are smiling and hence lose the "life" or the way people normally see them. Well....

  • yet again I have to reiterate the gist of the words of Sandy Nairne (former Director of the NPG) when I spoke to him in 2013 i.e. check out the painted portraits in the National Portrait Gallery - and how many are smiling. 
    • If somebody is smiling then the artist has painted a photograph. 
    • If the artist is not smiling, then the artist has painted the individual who has sat (or stood) for the artist. 
    • Bottom line, it's just too hard to keep smiling all the way through a sitting for a portrait!!
  • The Duke of Cambridge is also somebody who manages to look serious quite a lot of the time - and then allows himself a quizzical grin - as captured by the portrait. 
  • Given most people have NOT seen the couple in person or when not "performing" for the media, I really don't understand why those who know little about portraiture seem to insist on them looking happy smiley people on all their portraits. 
  • Has anybody ever seen a happy smiley portrait of the Queen?

This is how big it is

"We’re particularly pleased that its display will jump start a new phase in programming for children around art and creativity."

Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum

About Jamie Coreth

"It has been the most extraordinary privilege of my life to be chosen to paint this picture. I wanted to show Their Royal Highnesses in a manner where they appeared both relaxed and approachable, as well as elegant and dignified. As it is the first portrait to depict them together, and specifically during their time as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I wanted the image to evoke a feeling of balance between their public and private lives. The piece was commissioned as a gift for the people of Cambridgeshire, and I hope they will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed creating it.Jamie Coreth

I've got numerous references to Jamie Coreth on this blog - mostly in relation to his portraits being selected three times for the BP Portrait Award in different years. 

He seems to specialise in large and or unusual portraits.

Here's some facts about Jamie Coreth:

  • He was brought up in Dorset and Wiltshire
  • He studied for a BA (Hons) degree in archaeology and anthropology at Keble College, Oxford. 
  • He then changed tracks and next studied at the London Atelier of Representational Art(LARA) and the Florence Academy of Art. 
  • His work has been seen in group exhibitions in London. 
  • Jamie Coreth has been selected for the BP Portrait Award in 2016, 2018 and 2020 and 
  • In June 2016, a year after returning to London, his portrait 'Dad Sculpting Me' was awarded the Young Artist Award at the BP Portrait Awards, National Portrait Gallery, London. The painting depicts Jamie’s father, the sculptor Mark Coreth, sculpting Jamie. The pair ‘sat’ for their respective portraits over the course of a month. The judges of the BP Portrait Award commented, “we were drawn to the timeless quality of the painting and its treatment of a father and son relationship through art”. Jamie Coreth website
    Jamie Coreth being presented with his Young Portrait Artist of the Year Award at BP Portrait Award ceremony 2016 (copyright Making A Mark)
  • This is an interesting article about him and his Dad who was his model for his 2016 portrait. 
  • In 2022, he was awarded second place in The Portrait Society of America’s Annual International Portrait Competition, Atlanta, USA
  • He's undertaken a large number of commissions for a wide variety of subjects and clients and is represented by Fine Art Commissions.
  • He now paints from either his studio in Wiltshire or in London. 

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