National Portrait Gallery

St.Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE
Admission: Free
Free Entry
Wheelchair Access
Late Opening
Has Temporary Exhibitions
Has Permanent Collection

Opening Times

Monday: 1000 - 1800
Tuesday: 1000 - 1800
Wednesday: 1000 - 1800
Thursday: 1000 - 2100
Friday: 1000 - 2100
Saturday: 1000 - 1800
Sunday: 1000 - 1800
Closed closed 24-26 December.
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Pictures / Tags
Map / Location
Transport Info
Pictures / Tags
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery

Map / Location
Transport Info

Transport Info

Tube : Charing Cross (Bakerloo, Northern line), Leicester Square (Picadilly & Northern line).

The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery in London housing a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. It was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1856.

The gallery houses portraits of historically important and famous British people, selected on the basis of the significance of the sitter, not that of the artist. The collection includes photographs and caricatures as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture.

One of its best-known images is the Chandos portrait, the most famous portrait of William Shakespeare although there is some uncertainty about whether the painting actually is of the playwright.

Not all of the portraits are exceptional artistically, although there are self-portraits by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other British artists of note. Some, such as the group portrait of the participants in the Somerset House Conference of 1604, are important historical documents in their own right.

Often, the curiosity value is greater than the artistic worth of a work, as in the case of the anamorphic portrait of Edward VI by William Scrots, Patrick Branwell Brontë's painting of his sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne, or a sculpture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in medieval costume. Portraits of living figures were allowed from 1969.

In addition to its permanent galleries of historical portraits, the National Portrait Gallery exhibits a rapidly changing collection of contemporary work, stages exhibitions of portrait art by individual artists and hosts the annual BP Portrait Prize competition.

© National Portrait Gallery modified by A drop of art

Past exhibitions at National Portrait Gallery - now closed:
Bailey's Stardust 6th Feb 2014 - 1st Jun 2014
Derek Boshier: Imaginary Portraits 27th Sep 2013 - 4th May 2014
Elizabeth I and Her People 10th Oct 2013 - 5th Jan 2014
Giacometti: Pure Presence 15th Oct 2015 - 10th Jan 2016
Jacob Epstein Portrait Sculptor 28th Mar 2013 - 24th Nov 2013
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 12th Nov 2015 - 21st Feb 2016
Vogue 100: A Century of Style 11th Feb 2016 - 22nd May 2016