Pip Edwards P.E Nation Archibald Prize scandal: Art critic John McDonald gives ...

A leading Australian art critic has given his verdict on a portrait of P.E Nation founder Pip Edwards, after her staff tried to stop it being entered for the Archibald Prize as she looked it too 'old'. 

Melbourne artist Lauren Ferrier, 25, sat down with the Bondi businesswoman last year, with the high-profile designer 'overwhelmingly keen to have me paint her'. 

But when Ms Ferrier went to Edwards to have a crucial form signed in July her publicist Louise Gaffikin refused, emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia show.    

Ms Gaffikin criticised the painting as making Edwards look 'older beyond her years' and suggested she put forward a portrait 'perhaps with a more youthful feel.'

One of the best people to make a judgment on the painting - and the controversy - is John McDonald.

He is one of the nation's best known art critics, boasting 30 years' experience and a regular column in The Sydney Morning Herald. 

In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Mr McDonald had some constructive criticism of Ms Ferrier's piece - and for Team Edwards' approach to the painting.

Does it make her look 'old'? Lauren Ferrier's portrait of Pip Edwards- which the businesswoman's staff criticised as making her look 'older beyond her years'

A photograph of P.E Nation activewear businesswoman Pip Edwards, who has garnered a high profile for her popular fashion line and romance with Michael Clarke this year

Can you see the resemblance? Lauren Ferrier's portrait of Pip Edwards, left - which the businesswoman's staff criticised as making her look 'older beyond her years'. On right, a recent photograph

Verdict: Sydney Morning Herald art critic John McDonald, left, with artist Steve Lopes, above

Verdict: Sydney Morning Herald art critic John McDonald, left, with artist Steve Lopes, above 

Mr McDonald said if Edwards was 'fussy about how she looks' she should have carefully vetted the artist's previous work. 

'Every second portrait I think that's done, the subject of a portrait doesn't like it or thinks it makes them look too old or too ugly. 

'If she didn't want a portrait out there she didn't approve of she should have carefully vetted the artist.' 

Mr McDonald said portraits are frozen images of subjects, and come from a more objective position than people see themselves.

'Naturally people find their vanity offended by that,' he said, adding there were many famous instances. 

'Graham Sutherland painted a picture of Winston Churchill and Churchill complained, he said (according to legend) it makes me look like I'm sitting on the toilet. And when Churchill died his wife burned the picture!'

According to legend, Winston Churchill's wife destroyed had this portrait of the British prime minister after his death (a reproduction is above)

According to legend, Winston Churchill's wife destroyed had this portrait of the British prime minister after his death (a reproduction is above)

Of the Edwards portrait itself, Mr McDonald said: 'I think the portraitist has done as good a job as they can. 

'I don't think it's trying to deliberately make her look old or make her look ugly in any way.'

The critic said the painting's limits were the limits of the artist.

Asked what specific criticisms he had, Mr McDonald said that he felt it had a 'stiff feel about it', adding it looked like as if it was painted from a photograph.

Mr McDonald - once the subject of an Archibald entry himself - said most artists meet up with a subject as is required by the prestigious competition's rules, do a quick sketch, take photos and work it up from there. 

(Ms Ferrier confirmed she took some sketches of Edwards when she met her, and then worked up the final piece from photos).  

Mr McDonald also noted the portrait was painted in black and white and didn't attempt to 'do anything colourful in terms of skin tone and eyes'.  

Overall, he said: 'It's very hard for (Edwards) to really make a judgment on something like this.

'It's a storm in a tea cup. If she didn't like it, she didn't need to hang it - it didn't get much of a go anyway.'   

But it is now.  

Archibald-gate emails revealed

Fashionista Pip Edwards' profile has soared this year following her romance with cricket legend Michael Clarke

Fashionista Pip Edwards' profile has soared this year following her romance with cricket legend Michael Clarke

The young artist Ms Ferrier was in for a rude shock when she emailed Edwards, 40, in July to ask for her signature on an entry form. 

The signature was to confirm they had met, as per the Archibald's conditions of entry. Ms Ferrier said she had forgotten to bring the form to their initial meeting.

Emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia show that P.E Nation's global public relations manager, Louise Gaffikin, replied to Ms Ferrier on July 27 asking her to

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