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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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
Luc Tuymans: Glasses
Luc Tuymans makes boring paintings. Well, kind of. The Belgian artist has always made pictures that seemingly deal with banal and everyday subject matter – but there's always more hovering behind their bleached, scratchy surfaces. In this new show, he's...Until Sunday March 26 2017 FreeRead more
The Modern Lovers have a song that goes ‘Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole’. Which is surprising, because the way Pablo treated women you’d imagine that he got called a lot worse than that. Really, this show should be called ‘Picasso, Old Lech’,...Painting Until Sunday February 5 2017Read more
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016
A welcome return from the annual prize that celebrates the best of contemporary portrait photography. The mix of subjects and approaches is always breathtaking and eclectic – from grandiose formal commissions to intimate shots of loved ones.Photography Until Monday February 27 2017Read more
Late Shift at the National Portrait Gallery
Catch a slice of midweek culture at these late night openings. Every Thursday and Friday the gallery stays open until 9pm meaning you can take part in drawing classes, talks and discussions after work. Guests can also enjoy live music, DJs, films, performances...Thursday December 8 2016 - Friday December 21 2018 FreeRead more
Resident DJ: Eddie Otchere
Take advantage of the Gallery's late opening and enjoy DJ Eddie's set and a drink at our pop-up bar.Pop Thursday December 15 2016Read more
The Finnish accordion virtuoso performs music influenced by the Russian accordion tradition and Argentine Tango.Latin and world Friday December 16 2016Read more
Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
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London's best kept secret. It's not packed out with eminent Victorians (though it does have a few). You're greeted by photographs and paintings of people in the news today. There's even a video of David Beckham sleeping! I love the annual portrait and photographic competitions. Never agree with the judges but always find things that I love
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.