Queen Elizabeth maintained a dignified silence yesterday 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," Mr Condo said 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," Mr Condo told Reuters in a telephone interview from the US.

Asked what he was trying to portray in his depiction of one of the most famous faces in the world, Mr 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 Mr Condo had stuck with Plan A.

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