Nobody seems to like the first official portrait of Kate Middleton. Detractors say the painting makes Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge look old and drab — but at least it wasn’t banned for half a century because it made her neck look weird.
That’s what happened to a 1952 painting by John Napper, now finally on display after more than 60 years, according to the Telegraph. Liverpool councillors had commissioned Napper to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation, but their complaints about his work — namely, an exaggerated neck and the fact that it looked nothing at all like the Queen — led them to ban the painting from public view.
Trustees of St. George’s Hall announced Thursday that they’re bringing the portrait back out of storage to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the 60-year anniversary of the Queen’s coronation that kicked off globally last year. Forget about it being hidden from the masses — Liverpool’s Lord Mayor Gary Millar says some Brits will have no choice but to view the notorious work of art.
“It will be the first thing people will see if they come to get married or have a civil partnership or attend a citizenship ceremony,” he told the Telegraph.
Back in 1952, Napper apparently was quite understanding about both the debacle and his work’s lack of royal likeness, acknowledging it was “a beautiful painting of a queen, but not this Queen.” Fortunately, he got another chance: his second painting, featuring Queen Elizabeth with a normal-sized neck, now hangs in the Liverpool town hall.
The Queen has sat for 129 portraits in her life, and not all of them have been pretty. In 2001, artist Lucian Freud painted what became one of the most controversial depictions of the Queen that, uh, certainly accentuated her features. Some called it “thought-provoking and psychologically penetrating.” Others called it “a travesty.” Her Majesty’s verdict? Buckingham Palace does not comment on portraits of the Queen, but we imagine the evil eye she’s giving in Freud’s painting is probably some indication of her opinion of the work.