Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures. The portraits of musicians, scientists, artists, philanthropists and celebrities are arranged in chronological order from the top to the bottom of the building. At the top of the escalator up from the main foyer are the earliest works, portraits of Tudor and Stuart royals and notables. On the same floor, the eighteenth-century collection features Georgian writers and artists, with one room devoted to the influential Kit-Cat Club of Whig (leftish) intellectuals, Congreve and Dryden among them. More famous names here include Wren and Swift. The Duveen Extension contains Regency greats, military men such as Wellington and Nelson, as well as Byron, Wordsworth and other Romantics. The first floor is devoted to the Victorians (Dickens, Brunel, Darwin) and, in the Duveen Extension, the twentieth century. One of the NPG's most popular highlights is the annual BP Portrait Award where the best entrants for the prestigious prize are exhibited.
National Portrait Gallery
|Venue name:||National Portrait Gallery||Contact:|
St Martin's Place
|Opening hours:||Mon-Wed, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Thu, Fri 10am-9pm|
|Transport:||Tube: Charing Cross|
Pick a dateto
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon
The waiflike muse of Givenchy, not only captivated the fashion world but also the big screen. This summer the National Portrait Gallery celebrate the British actress, dancer and humanitarian worker with an exhibition of exquisite and rarely seen photographs....Photography Until Sunday October 18 2015Read more
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon
A byword for timeless elegance both on-screen and off, Audrey Hepburn is one of the twentieth century’s most enduring style icons. The National Portrait Gallery’s summer show charts Hepburn’s picture-perfect career, from West End chorus girl to leading...Fashion Until Sunday October 18 2015Read more
BP Portrait Award
From famous sitters to family members, like Michael Gaskell’s acrylic painting of his niece ‘Eliza’ (pictured), every face tells a different story in this annual portrait prize. Now in it’s 36th year, this prestigious painting competition presents the...Until Sunday September 20 2015 FreeRead more
Things to do
Simon Schama’s The Face of Britain
Top historian Simon Schama collaborates with the NPG gallery curators for this special display exploring the development, character and meanings of British portraiture. Portraits from the vast collection will be dotted through out the gallery, displayed...Wednesday September 16 2015 - Monday January 4 2016 FreeRead more
Giacometti: Pure Presence
We tend to think of Alberto Giacometti's skinny figures as embodiments of the human condition – containers of existential angst – rather than depictions of actual people. But the Swiss modernist sculptor (1901-1966) had a parallel artistic career as a...Thursday October 15 2015 - Sunday January 10 2016Read more
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One of my favorite places in London. The National Portrait Gallery is a must see for all art lovers.
I particularly enjoy the BP Portrait Competition. Some of the best contemporary painters take part and the quality of the work submitted is superb!
A must on any trip to London, the National Portrait Gallery houses an incredible collection of portraits. Every time I visit I find something new and intriguing amongst the thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs of subjects from Anne Boleyn to Rio Ferdinand. It is free to enter but I would definitely the café as the food is excellent and great value for the city centre.