London, Oct 24: Queen Elizabeth maintained a dignified silence after being depicted as a toothless Cabbage Patch doll in a controversial new portrait being shown at one of Britain's most popular museums.
But at least the monarch was spared from New York artist George Condo's original idea, he wanted to paint her as a nude in the style of Spanish master Diego Velazquez.
Long gone are the deferential days in the 1950s when Pietro Annigoni painted the monarch as a stately young woman in flowing robes.
''This painting looks like a Cabbage Patch doll,'' Condo said yesterday of his portrait that was commissioned by the Wrong Gallery for displaying in the Tate Modern museum.
''They do have similar characteristics. Cabbage Patch dolls are something every child loves,'' Condo told Reuters in a telephone interview from the United States.
Asked what he was trying to portray in his depiction of one of the most famous faces in the world, Condo said: ''It is a nightmare picture of herself in her own head. It is an improvisation of her own nightmare.'' ''Has the latest royal painter taken artistic licence a tad too far?'' The Daily Mail asked yesterday as the tabloid reviewed what artists from Lucien Freud to Rolf Harris had done in past regal portrayals.
But the outrage would certainly have been much louder if Condo had stuck with Plan A.
''What I had originally intended to do was a stunning nude that would be in the style of the Velazquez Rokeby Venus. That was my original idea,'' he said.
''It is very difficult to do something new,'' he said.
''At first it was the most petrifying thought -- to paint something of the Queen. I would absolutely love it if she would sit for me.'' Condo ended up doing nine surreal portraits in all, including one of the monarch with a carrot sticking out of each ear. Another had her shaped like a chess piece.
Tate Modern has stoutly defended displaying the painting but Brendan Kelly of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters described it as ''embarrassingly bad''.
Buckingham Palace would not say whether the queen was amused or not by the Cabbage Patch portrait.
''We are not commenting on it. This is very much a matter for the artist,'' a spokesman at her London residence told Reuters.