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A Kate Middleton touch comes to the National Portrait Gallery

February 9, 2012 |  3:28 pm

Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, at Britain's National Portrait Gallery

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — formerly Kate Midddleton — stepped out solo Wednesday to Britain's National Portrait Gallery in London for a royal preview of a retrospective of the work of Lucian Freud, which opened to the public Thursday.

And while Kate was fashionably and affordably clad in a gray jacket dress by Jesire, most of the subjects in the portraits weren't clad at all. Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, was a fan of painting nudes, often friends and family.

It's a far cry from the kid-centric art projects Kate and Prince William tried their hands at on the Inner-City Arts campus in downtown Los Angeles last July; Freud was the most renowned British portrait painter of the 20th century, and the show features more than 100 of his works. Kate, a patron of the gallery, showed up solo while hubby Wills was on a six-week tour of duty in the Falkland Islands, CBS News reported.

Kate Middleton in JesireDuring her visit, Kate greeted the artist's daughters Bella and Esther Freud. Also during her visit, the gallery confirmed the duchess will pose for a portrait in the near future, though which artist will do it has not been determined.

Freud, who died in July at age 88, stirred some controversy in 2000 with his (fully clothed) portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; the naturalistic portrait was dubbed daring by some and disrespectful by others. Alas, it isn't part of the exhibit, which is open to the public until May 27, then moves to Fort Worth from July 1 to Oct. 29.

Sue Tilley, who modeled for a roomful of Freud's works, wasn't worried the duchess would be put off by all the flesh on display.

"I'm not embarrassed about her seeing me naked — I'm a human being," Tilley told the Associated Press. "I may not be the most gorgeous one under the sun, but that's what I am."

"It's art, you know. Poor woman, I'm sure she's seen things before," she said.

Say that again — somehow, we doubt anything at the show was more shocking than Princess Beatrice's wedding hat.

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— Christie D'Zurilla
twitter.com/dzurillaville

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Top photo: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, at the Lucien Freud exhibition with curator Sarah Howgate and National Portrait Gallery Director Sandy Nairne on Wednesday. Credit: Jorge Herrera / AFP / Getty Images.

Left photo: The former Kate Middleton in a Jesire jacket dress. Credit: Yui Mok / AFP / Getty Images.


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