Artist Del Kathryn Barton was terrified one of Australia's best-known cooks and restaurateurs, Maggie Beer, might not like her portrait.
Beer first saw the painting with her family at a celebration in Adelaide at the start of December, and Barton, a two-time Archibald winner, was relieved by her response.
"I do feel like she does genuinely love it, and it was very emotional with her family in all the right ways," Barton told AAP.
The painting was unveiled to the public at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra on Thursday.
Beer is pictured in a green dress surrounded by her favourite foods and flowers, including a yellow rose and climbing peas, as well as asparagus spears, quince and pomegranates.
There's also a pheasant in the frame, which Beer is convinced resembles her husband Colin, according to Barton.
The portrait is overflowing with the kind of generosity that has characterised Beer's career as a cook and media personality, who has helped shape Australia's understanding of sustainable food production.
Barton said she was honoured to paint Beer, who she described as a pioneer and cultural icon.
"Maggie is someone you fall in love with immediately... she just has such an infectious, generous energy," the artist told AAP.
Beer first visited the artist's studio in Sydney a little over a year ago, where the pair developed a "completely divine" dynamic.
But the flip side of the prestigious commission was a lot of pressure, according to Barton, flowing not only from the respect she has for Beer but also the public nature of the project.
Barton only agrees to paint a portrait about every 18 months - it's a discipline she believes is important but finds draining at times.
As her paintings are highly stylised, with fields of colour and ornate decoration, there's always a risk the subject may not see themselves in the finished work.
There are other self-imposed risks too: Barton does not do preparatory drawings, letting the composition and colours evolve on the canvas.
"I'm a maniac in that way, I can't fully explain it," the artist said.
"If I start preparing things too much, the energy goes out of me."
The gallery has offered Barton various commissions over many years, she said, but she lacked sufficient admiration for two previous potential subjects to want to paint them.
A third offer was vetoed by the would-be subject's wife, who hated her painting style.
"So it's a robust process!" Barton joked.
The gallery has commissioned almost 90 portraits of people who have made significant contributions to Australian life, starting with Howard Arkley's iconic portrait of Nick Cave in 1999.
The portrait 'Maggie, 2023' by Del Kathryn Barton will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery during summer.
Australian Associated Press