This article was first published in The Big Smoke on June 30, 2015.
So Princess Charlotte was christened. Kate wore an Alexander McQueen coat and the family trapezed about pushing“that” pram. The royals then dutifully got their official portraits taken by the celebrity photographer Mario Testino and released four: one formal family photo and three intimate ones. Back at the venerable offices of The Guardian, Jonathan Jones, the resident art writer, took one look at the photos, vomited all over his keyboard and pressed publish. Jones’ main complaint is the vapidity and emptiness of the photos.
The intimate – supposedly honest – photos particularly got his goat. Testino, in his efforts to present the Royals as impossibly perfect, had missed the opportunity to present something authentic, real and complex. After all, authentic and real would invariably mean revealing imperfections because who is perfect, after all? Jones draws a comparison between a painting by Zoffany of the sons of George III, which I assume is this, and Goya’s portrait of the family of Charles IV of Spain. He praised the first for showing “the burdens and stresses of royal childhood in a genuinely humanising way,” and the second for revealing the subjects as “mortal and fallible human beings.”
I completely agree with Jones on Zoffany and Goya’s works. Yes, they gave us a glimpse of the humanity behind the glamour: the burdens, the pains, the expectations and the inevitable failures that they carried on their selves. I still steadfastly prefer to see Will and Kate as glossy, pretty creatures of magazine advertisement variety.
Read more on why on the The Big Smoke.