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Kate Middleton attends gala the National Portrait Gallery

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Duchess of Cambridge dazzles in a recycled Alexander McQueen look as she joins Kate Moss and Princess Beatrice for a glittering gala evening at the National Portrait Gallery

  • The Duchess of Cambridge is attending the 2019 Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London
  • Kate, 37, earlier visited a children's centre in London following yesterday's Commonwealth Day events 
  • Kate has been royal patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012 and contributed to a 2018 exhibition
  • The gallery is home to Paul Emsley's infamous 2012 painting of Kate, her first official portrait as a royal 

By Unity Blott For Mailonline

Published: 16:18 EDT, 12 March 2019 | Updated: 16:21 EDT, 12 March 2019

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The Duchess of Cambridge has arrived for a glittering gala evening at London's National Portrait Gallery. 

Fresh from a busy day of royal engagements, Kate, 37, stunned in Alexander McQueen as she joined a host of celebrities at the 2019 Portrait Gala on Tuesday evening.

The black dress, featuring white floral detail, is believed to be a customised version of a gown she wore to the 2017 BAFTAs. 

But she wasn't the only VIP guest tonight, as Princess Beatrice made her first official red carpet appearance with property developer boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.

The Queen's granddaughter reportedly started dating property father-of-one Edo in early October, and tonight the pair rubbed shoulders with Liam Payne, supermodel Kate Moss and Vogue editor Edward Enninful.

The duchess, a history of art graduate and keen amateur photographer, is due to meet members of the gallery’s Youth Forum tonight and view artwork produced by some of its outreach programmes.

Queen of recycling! Fresh from a busy day of royal engagements, Kate, 37, stunned in a Alexander McQueen look as she joined a host of celebrities at the 2019 Portrait Gala in London on Tuesday evening
Queen of recycling! Fresh from a busy day of royal engagements, Kate, 37, stunned in a Alexander McQueen look as she joined a host of celebrities at the 2019 Portrait Gala in London on Tuesday evening

Queen of recycling! Fresh from a busy day of royal engagements, Kate, 37, stunned in a Alexander McQueen look as she joined a host of celebrities at the 2019 Portrait Gala in London on Tuesday evening

Princess Beatrice made her first official red carpet appearance with property developer boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi as the pair joined the Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday evening
Princess Beatrice made her first official red carpet appearance with property developer boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi as the pair joined the Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday evening

Princess Beatrice made her first official red carpet appearance with property developer boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi as the pair joined the Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday evening

This year's gala will support Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery, a project for the complete renewal of the gallery that will see a major refurbishment of the building.

In addition to the work at St Martin’s Place, the project will also see the gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide with plans to engage audiences’ onsite, locally, regionally and online. 

Activities include a UK-wide schools programme for teaching history and art, a national skills-sharing collaboration with other museums and galleries, and new partnerships with organisations throughout the country. 

As part of this programme, the gallery will work with museums in Cornwall, Coventry, Sheffield and Southampton on the Creative Connections project; a co-curated exhibition programme for young people, which will result in students creating new art works alongside artists and a display of portraits from the Gallery’s Collection at each venue.

The gallery is home to Paul Emsley's infamous 2012 painting of Kate, her first official portrait which received mixed reviews when it was unveiled just over six years ago.

British Vogue editor Edward Enninful arrives for the 2019 Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London, joining the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Beatrice, who was there with her new boyfriend
British Vogue editor Edward Enninful arrives for the 2019 Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London, joining the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Beatrice, who was there with her new boyfriend

British Vogue editor Edward Enninful arrives for the 2019 Portrait Gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London, joining the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Beatrice, who was there with her new boyfriend

She posed for the artist at his studio in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, followed by another sitting at Kensington Palace in London.  He also worked from a series of photos he took of the duchess.

Kate has been royal patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012 and last year she wrote a foreword for its Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography exhibition catalogue, and captions for selected images in the show.

In March 2018 she became the first ever royal patron of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, a role that reflects her interest in the visual arts, photography, design and textiles.

The Duchess is also a keen photographer, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Photographic Society.

This is the third gala evening that Kate has attended in her role as royal patron of the National Gallery and, as in previous years, the funds raised will help support its work.

The royal portrait that divided art critics 

When the first official portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013, it was greeted with a global eyebrow-raise you could practically hear.

British artist Paul Emsley's portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in January 2013
British artist Paul Emsley's portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in January 2013

British artist Paul Emsley's portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in January 2013

Though Kate herself said Paul Emsley's likeness of her was 'amazing' and 'brilliant', and her husband Prince William told the artist it was 'absolutely beautiful', critics dismissed it as unflattering, ageing and even 'rotten'. 

Emsley later hit back at his critics, saying the aftermath of its unveiling felt like a 'witch hunt', but that there is still 'nothing he would have changed' about his painting.

Speaking to Hello! magazine, he said: 'Some of the words written about it were so personal. I'd be inhuman if I said it didn't affect me. When you take on commissions like this it is hazardous and you expect a bit of flak, but I expected nothing like the criticism I have received. I didn't expect it to go to the levels it did.

'It felt like a bit of a witch hunt and people who have not even seen my portrait joined in with what quickly became a circus. The worst thing is it was not only destructive to me, but particularly upsetting for my two daughters and my wife.'

He added: 'At first the attacks were so vicious that there was a point where I myself doubted that the portrait of the Duchess was any good. But now, I've had time to reflect, I am still happy with it and am getting on with my life. There is nothing I would have changed.'

Emsley said that the praise of the Duke and Duchess meant more to him 'than anything else said or written', but that he would urge people to visit the National Portrait Gallery since he felt 'half the problem is that the portrait doesn't photograph well'.

According to the gallery, the number of people visiting since the painting went on display on 11 January 2013 rose from 24,000 over that weekend, up from 17,000 the week before.

The Telegraph reported that postcards of the portrait were the fastest-selling item in the history of the gallery's permanent collection.

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