Painting Royalty Can Be A Delicate Art

After 60 years locked in a darkened vault, a controversial portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth finally saw the light of day last week.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "LITTLE QUEENIE")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

After 60 years locked in a darkened vault, a controversial portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth finally saw the light of day last week. John Napper painted the queen in 1952 and gave her a really long neck. Apparently, the portrait was supposed to be hung really high up so Elizabeth's neck would appear normal when viewed from below. But the painting was displayed too low; the Queen looked too long-necked, so it was quickly whisked away from view.

Napper himself, who died in 2001, said of his work, it is, quote "a beautiful painting of a queen, but not this queen."

The unveiling comes on the heels of another royal portrait kerfuffle, a widely panned new rendering of the Duchess of Cambridge. The Guardian's art critic, Adrian Searle, said this, quote, "The portrait is as soundless and smooth as an undertaker's makeover."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LITTLE QUEENIE")

CHUCK BERRY: (Singing) Go, go, go, little Queenie.

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