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King Charles III Portrait Artist Jonathan Yeo Says Royal ‘Smiled Approvingly’ at Near-Finished Painting

King Charles Portrait Artist Shares Royal's Reaction to Official Portrait
Jonathan Yeo Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Jonathan Yeo’s official portrait of King Charles III is still drawing a reaction nearly two weeks after it was first unveiled, but Yeo has won the approval of the person who matters most: the painting’s subject.

Yeo, 53, shared on the Thursday, May 24, episode of Hello magazine’s “A Right Royal Podcast” that Charles saw a mostly finished version of the portrait last year and gave polite approval.

“When I showed it to him back in November, when it was sort of three-quarters done… certainly the face was done, body was sketched and the color was mostly pretty much as it was, in the end,” he shared. “If he’d been appalled, I think, I might have rethought it and toned it down a bit. But he didn’t seem that way,”

Yeo previously told the BBC that Charles was “initially mildly surprised by the strong color but otherwise he seemed to be smiling approvingly.” While the bold use of red divided lay commentators and professional art critics alike, the artist also noted that Queen Camilla was a fan of the ultra-red portrait.

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“When [Camilla] looked at it and smiled straight away, I thought, ‘OK, phew! That’s the important one,” he told the Boston Globe earlier this month.

Yeo, for his part, is enjoying the intense reaction to his vibrant royal portrait. The artist is rather familiar with the royal family, having previously painted Camilla and Prince Philip.

King Charles Portrait Artist Shares Royal's Reaction to Official Portrait
Jonathan Yeo and King Charles III Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images

It’s strangely reassuring to know a painted portrait can still spark so many conversations in an image-saturated age,” he wrote last week, reveling in the conspiracy theories generated by his painting. “If there’s anyone who hasn’t come up with their own outlandish interpretation yet, feel free to stick one in the comments below. A copy of The Da Vinci Code for the most original.”

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The reason for all that red was much more practical than internet speculation would have you believe. Yeo wanted to tone down the draw of Charles’ red Welsh Guard uniform which Yeo was asked to include in the painting.

“The red was inspired by the Welsh Guards, but I wanted the painting to be a little more contemporary and not get in the way of seeing the face and the personality,” Yeo told Hello. “The color was an early experiment and then I sketched it out and worked on the face, and the face and background worked so well.”

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