A new portrait of King Charles has the internet aghast

A new portrait of King Charles has the internet aghast
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A portrait of King Charles in a black frame. The portrait is mostly red, and a butterfly is about to rest on the King's shoulder.

This week, King Charles unveiled a new portrait of himself by the acclaimed painter Jonathan Yeo at Buckingham Palace.

Reactions to the very red, very raw-looking piece have been mixed. Many on social media note that the portrait is both intriguing and unflattering. Here’s what people are saying about the art online.

Portrait of a colonizer

The British monarchy gained and retained power by colonizing indigenous nations for centuries. As a benefactor of that legacy and the modern representative of the monarchy’s oppressive past, King Charles has been criticized for his inability to make appropriate reparations (or even apologize) for the pain the institution has caused around the world.

Echoes of “Tampongate”

In 1993, Charles made international news when tabloids published transcripts of phone calls he had made to now-wife Camilla Bowles while they were both married to other people.

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The scandal became known as “Tampongate” because the transcripts included an exchange in which the duo discussed Charles’ hope to be reincarnated as one of Camilla’s tampons. Some online observers have noted that the portrait’s color and texture resemble a used feminine hygiene product, leading to comparisons.

Is the painting very bad, excellent, or both?

A critic at The Guardian panned Yeo’s painting as a “superficially observed and carelessly executed bland banality,” and the artist himself acknowledged that viewers “might not agree with how I’ve done [the piece].” One thing is for sure: like all art, its appeal is subjective.


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