SOME CRITICS PAN PORTRAIT OF THE PRINCESS
January 25, 1984
LONDON (AP) – A full-length oil painting of Princess Diana has been unveiled lo mixed reviews, Tlic princess says she likes it but one art critic calls it “the pits.” The six-foot portrait by Australian-born artist June Mendoza was unveiled Tuesday night during a ceremony at the bancjuet hall of the Wor- /ihipful Company’ of Grocers, one of the historic merchant guilds in London’s financial quarter.
Diana, who attended, told the artist afterwards: “I like it very much.” Many others agreed. But some professionals from the London art, world assailed the portrait, which shows a romantic-looking, serious- faced Diana wearing a deep pink satin ball gown with a matching luce chemise top and diamond and pearl earrings.
“It’s the pits, It’s appalling,” said Brian Sewell, art critic of The Tatler, a magazine that specializes in keeping socialites up to dale on new trends. He said she looked so thin in the portrait that she appeared to he ill. Sir Hugh Casson, president of the Royal Academy of Arts, told reporters: “I don’t tike using the word superficial, but something is lacking in this picture… It catches the princess’s fine-boned charm but not, I think, her splendid strength of character.” However, Michael Noakes, a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, said: “It’s a very accomplished, professional painting. It seems to me a little hard that if you paint a pretty woman you can then be accused of painting a rather sentimental picture.”
The artist, who has also painted Diana’s husband Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, and other members of the royal family, is the only woman member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. “Necessarily, it is a formal painting,” she said. “Now I would like the chance to paint the princess in an informal setting. I would love the freedom it would give me.” The portrait was painted during six sittings at Kensington Palace, the London home of Diana and her husband. The picture was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Grocers to mark last year’s ceremony when the princess was granted the freedom of the company, an honorary distinction awarded as a mark of esteem.
The picture was hung in the company’s banquet hall alongside portraits of King Charles II, King William III and King George III. The merchant guilds, whose members consist largely of prominent businessmen, are descended from medieval trade guilds.