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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- This is a stirring documentary tribute to the cultural theorist Stuart Hall – born in Jamaica and living in Britain since the 1950s – by the filmmaker John Akomfrah. Hall’s life and words are acute reflections of the world and Britain’s role in it...Read more
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Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948
The 40 photographs on display in these exhibiton will offer a snapshot into the lives of Black Britons in the nineteenth and twentieth century – from the days of imperial expansion to the arrival of the HMS Windrush in 1948.Until Sunday December 11 2016 FreeRead more
BP Portrait Award 2016
Portraits selected from 2,557 entries by artists from 80 countries around the world, covering all bases, from parents to poseurs, figurative nudes to famous faces and expressive sketches to piercing photo-realism.Painting Until Sunday September 4 2016Read more
William Eggleston Portraits
Legendary Memphis photographer William Eggleston has created a whole genre of psychologically ambiguous Americana, much of it centred on apparently mundane bits of his home town. I expected that isolating his portraits from the rest of his work wouldn’t...Photography Until Sunday October 23 2016Read more
Musicke In The Ayre: From Dusk To Dawn
Tenor Daniel Thomson and lutenist Din Ghani present lute songs through the night.Classical and opera Friday August 26 2016Read more
An evening of string works by Ravel and Schumann.Classical and opera Friday September 9 2016Read more
Elegant and compelling vocal jazz from singer Vogel. The Cinematic Orchestra vocalist has also played with Eska and the Brand New Heavies and the late Isaac Hayes. Tonight she performs from her well-crafted debut solo album, ‘Turn it Up’.Jazz Friday September 16 2016Read more
Alice Phelps Band
The husky singer performs cinematic songs from her recent EP alongside her band.Jazz Friday September 23 2016Read more
Cevanne And Crewdson
The collaboration performs folk made from field recordings with a harp, voices and electronic inventions.Folk, country and blues Friday September 30 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
Picasso Portraits: Ani Batikian
The Armenian violinist performs solo works by Back, Ysaye and Paganini and three musical sketches of Picasso by Roland Roberts.Classical and opera Friday October 7 2016Read more
Average User Rating
4.8 / 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.