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.
|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|
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- We tend to make a fuss of debutants. We celebrate their precocity. We excuse their naivety. But sometimes the word is misleading. Take Tom Ford. ‘A Single Man’ is the 48 year old’s first film, but can we really call a man who spent ten years as th...Read more
- Wittier, a lot more enjoyable and infinitely richer than the year's major Oscar contenders, this is clearly a blood brother to Anderson's Rushmore. The Tenenbaums are New York high society gone to seed. Scandalous Royal (Hackman) separated from w...Read more
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Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky
You know your country’s got problems when it starts producing really good art. Just look at all the psychedelic rock and conceptual art that came out of Vietnam-era America, or the performance art that happened when Thatcher was in charge over here. Shitty...Masterpiece Until Sunday June 26 2016Read more
Vogue 100: A Century of Style
Fashion may be fickle, but the fashion photographer’s lens is also a mirror. ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ is as much a reflection of a hundred years of our history as it is a celebration of the original glossy. Born in 1916 during WWI, when shipping...Until Sunday May 22 2016Read more
The Hermes Experiment
The contemporary quartet, featuring soprano, clarinet, harp and double bass, deliver a signature set.Classical and opera Friday May 6 2016Read more
The DJ plays a range of musical styles including music from Thomas Tallis to Gracie Fields, Grace Jones to John Barry, Duke Ellington to Lord Creator.Dance and electronic Thursday May 12 2016Read more
The guitarist performs a selection of works from JS Bach and Heitor Villa-Lobos.Classical and opera Friday May 13 2016Read more
Genia: Russia And The Arts
The Russian piano virtuoso performs works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Scriabin, alongside her own compositions.Classical and opera Friday May 20 2016Read more
Concordia Foundation: Shakespeare & Love
Musical settings of Shakespeare texts and stories of love by composers from around the world.Classical and opera Friday May 27 2016Read more
William Eggleston Portraits
William Eggleston, the man widely considered the godfather of colour photography, is a geniune art world legend and as cool as many of the people he's shot over the years. Joe Strummer and Dennis Hopper are among the names that feature in this retrospective...Photography Thursday July 21 2016 - Sunday October 23 2016Read more
The 2016 exhibition schedule just got a whole load more exciting with the announcement of the National Portrait Gallery's major autumn show. 'Picasso Portraits' traces the development of Pablo Picasso through the portraits he painted throughout his life...Painting Thursday October 6 2016 - Sunday February 5 2017Read more
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
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I adore the permanent collection here, and especially the 20th/21st century collection - it's like stepping into an edition of Hello curated by intellectuals and created by the best artists around.
I went after work on a late night Thursday opening - there was a live progressive house DJ which reverberated around the 19 century galleries - I had a skip in my walk! I really loved the Tudor section because of the infamous King Henry 8th and his many wife's - I felt that I intimately got acquainted with them all. It was also fascinating to see and learn more about the various different 19 / 20th century scientists, traders, explorers and romantics - all people that shaped the western world we live in today. I will be visiting again as two hours was not enough!
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.