“Does the Artist Hate the King?” People Criticized the New Portrait of King Charles

2 weeks ago

King Charles unveiled his official portrait, the first since his coronation. Many people immediately found the painting unattractive. However, the artist embedded a powerful meaning into this work of art.

The unveiling

Kin Cheung / Associated Press / East News

Recently, King Charles III personally unveiled a new portrait of himself at Buckingham Palace, the first such portrait since his coronation. The Royal Family’s Instagram account shared an exclusive video of the unveiling, featuring the king himself presenting the artwork.

This significant new work will ultimately be displayed in Drapers’ Hall in London, adding to its historical art collection and offering the public a glimpse of the monarch’s regal presence.

There was an ongoing debate in the comments.

The unveiling sparked a heated debate in the comments section on the Royal Family’s Instagram post and other social media sites. Opinions were sharply divided, with some users harshly criticizing the artwork. Comments ranged from “That is hideous” and “Without sounding rude, this is the worst royal portrait I’ve ever seen” to “100% thought this was satire.”

One critic remarked, “The face is good, the rest is appalling,” while another noted, “I would have loved this if it was any other color than red. He really captured the essence of him in the face, but the harshness of the red doesn’t match the softness of his expression.”

Despite the criticism, there were also voices of appreciation, such as “A lovely portrait of King Charles! I love the way the muted background draws attention to his face!” The mixed reactions highlight the polarizing nature of the portrait and the strong emotions it has evoked among the public.

One person wrote, “I would be very upset and offended if this was my royal portrait. They said a red background, but that’s majority red, and it looks like a floating head in a sea of red. This is awful. Horrendous. Does the artist hate the king?? I thought when I first saw it that someone was joking. Then I saw it posted here.” Another noted, “Imagine walking up on that in a dark room! It’s a bit of scary sir” “It doesn’t look cohesive with the face versus the rest of the painting. And that overwhelming red,” one commentator added.

However, the royal figures themselves were pleased with the portrait. The artist recounted that during the final session, the Queen remarked that the artist had captured the King well. The best judge of a portrait is often someone who knows the subject very well because they can instantly recognize whether it feels familiar. According to the artist, the King also saw the portrait “in an unfinished state... At first, he was slightly surprised by the vivid color, but otherwise, he seemed to be smiling approvingly.”

The artist

Jonathan Yeo, a prominent figure in the world of figurative painting, has earned widespread acclaim for his unique blend of traditional and experimental portraiture. Yeo’s distinctive approach involves a deep engagement with his subjects, allowing him to capture their essence beyond mere physical appearance.

His recent portrait of King Charles III epitomizes this philosophy. Yeo explained, “As a portrait artist, you get this unique opportunity to spend time with and get to know a subject, so I wanted to minimize the visual distractions and allow people to connect with the human being underneath.”

The meaning of the portrait.

A particularly striking element of Yeo’s portrait is the inclusion of a butterfly. This detail serves multiple purposes, both symbolic and compositional. Yeo elaborated, “Primarily a symbol of the beauty and precariousness of nature, it highlights the environmental causes the King has championed most of his life and certainly long before they became a mainstream conversation.”

The butterfly also provides a visual contrast to the uniform, softening the portrayal and adding layers of meaning. “In the context of art history, a butterfly often symbolizes metamorphosis and rebirth, paralleling the King’s transition from Prince to monarch during the period the portrait was created,” Yeo noted, further emphasizing the transformative phase in King Charles’s life.

Attention to the royal family is greater than ever. For Prince Louis’ 6th birthday celebration, his photos were released, and people immediately noticed an interesting detail.


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