The gallery's main entrance in 2018
|Location||Saint. Martin's Place|
|Collection size||195,000 portraits|
|Visitors||1,949,330 (2016) |
|Public transit access|
The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) 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 moved in 1896 to its current site at St Martin's Place, off Trafalgar Square, and adjoining the National Gallery. It has been expanded twice since then. The National Portrait Gallery also has regional outposts at Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire and Montacute House in Somerset. It is unconnected to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, with which its remit overlaps. The gallery is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.
Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.
Beningbrough Hall is a large Georgian mansion near the village of Beningbrough, North Yorkshire, England, and overlooks the River Ouse.
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.
A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.
A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way through sketching, pencil strokes, or through other artistic drawings.
The "Chandos" portrait is the most famous of the portraits that may depict William Shakespeare (1564–1616). Painted between 1600 and 1610, it may have served as the basis for the engraved portrait of Shakespeare used in the First Folio in 1623. It is named after the Dukes of Chandos, who formerly owned the painting. The portrait was given to the National Portrait Gallery, London on its foundation in 1856, and it is listed as the first work in its collection.
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 selection of contemporary work, stages exhibitions of portrait art by individual artists and hosts the annual BP Portrait Prize competition.
William Hogarth FRSA was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects", perhaps best known being his moral series A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".
Sir Joshua Reynolds was an English painter, specialising in portraits. John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the "Grand Style" in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect. He was a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769.
Somerset House is a large Neoclassical building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The Georgian building, which was built on the site of a Tudor palace belonging to the Duke of Somerset, was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776. It was further extended with Victorian wings to the east and west in 1831 and 1856 respectively. The East Wing is now part of the adjacent Strand campus of King's College London. Somerset House stood directly on the River Thames until the Victoria Embankment was built in the late 1860s.
The three people largely responsible for the founding of the National Portrait Gallery are commemorated with busts over the main entrance. At centre is Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope, with his supporters on either side, Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (to Stanhope's left) and Thomas Carlyle (to Stanhope's right). It was Stanhope who, in 1846 as a Member of Parliament (MP), first proposed the idea of a National Portrait Gallery. It was not until his third attempt, in 1856, this time from the House of Lords, that the proposal was accepted. With Queen Victoria's approval, the House of Commons set aside a sum of £2000 to establish the gallery. As well as Stanhope and Macaulay, the founder Trustees included Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Ellesmere. It was the latter who donated the Chandos portrait to the nation as the gallery's first portrait. Carlyle became a trustee after the death of Ellesmere in 1857.
Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope FRS, was an English aristocrat, chiefly remembered for his role in the Kaspar Hauser case during the 1830s.
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher. Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time, he presented many lectures during his lifetime with certain acclaim in the Victorian era. One of those conferences resulted in his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History where he explains that the key role in history lies in the actions of the "Great Man", claiming that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men".
Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield,, was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party, defining its policies and its broad outreach. Disraeli is remembered for his influential voice in world affairs, his political battles with the Liberal Party leader William Ewart Gladstone, and his one-nation conservatism or "Tory democracy". He made the Conservatives the party most identified with the glory and power of the British Empire. He is the only British prime minister to have been of Jewish birth. He was also a novelist, publishing works of fiction even as prime minister.
For the first 40 years, the gallery was housed in various locations in London. The first 13 years were spent at 29 Great George Street, Westminster. There, the collection increased in size from 57 to 208 items, and the number of visitors from 5,300 to 34,500. In 1869, the collection moved to Exhibition Road and buildings managed by the Royal Horticultural Society. Following a fire in those buildings, the collection was moved in 1885, this time to the Bethnal Green Museum. This location was ultimately unsuitable due to its distance from the West End, condensation and lack of waterproofing. Following calls for a new location to be found, the government accepted an offer of funds from the philanthropist William Henry Alexander. Alexander donated £60,000 followed by another £20,000, and also chose the architect, Ewan Christian. The government provided the new site, St Martin's Place, adjacent to the National Gallery, and £16,000.The buildings, faced in Portland stone, were constructed by Shillitoe & Son. Both the architect, Ewan Christian, and the gallery's first director, George Scharf, died shortly before the new building was completed. The gallery opened at its new location on 4 April 1896. The site has since been expanded twice. The first extension, in 1933, was funded by Lord Duveen, and resulted in the wing by architect Sir Richard Allison on a site previously occupied by St George's Barracks running along Orange Street.
The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.
Exhibition Road is a street in South Kensington, London which is home to several major museums and academic establishments, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London, is the UK's leading gardening charity.
In February 1909, a murder–suicide took place in a gallery known as the Arctic Room. In an apparently planned attack, John Tempest Dawson, aged 70, shot his 58 year–old wife, Nannie Caskie; Dawson shot her from behind with a revolver, then shot himself in the mouth, dying instantly. His wife died in hospital several hours later. Both were American nationals who had lived in Hove for around 10 years.Evidence at the inquest suggested that Dawson, a wealthy and well–travelled man, was suffering from a Persecutory delusion. The incident came to public attention in 2010 when the Gallery's archive was put on-line as this included a personal account of the event by James Donald Milner, then the Assistant Director of the Gallery.
Hove is a town in East Sussex, England, immediately west of its larger neighbour Brighton, with which it forms the unitary authority Brighton and Hove. It forms a single conurbation with Brighton and some smaller towns and villages running along the coast. As part of local government reform, Brighton and Hove were merged, to form the borough of Brighton and Hove in 1997. In 2001, the new borough officially attained city status.
Persecutory delusions are a set of delusional conditions in which the affected persons believe they are being persecuted. Specifically, they have been defined as containing two central elements:
James Donald Milner was director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 1916 until his death.
The collections of the National Portrait Gallery were stored at Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War, along with pieces from the Royal Collection and paintings from Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster.
The second extension was funded by Sir Christopher Ondaatje and a £12m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and was designed by London-based architects Edward Jones and Jeremy Dixon.The Ondaatje Wing opened in 2000 and occupies a narrow space of land between the two 19th-century buildings of the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, and is notable for its immense, two-storey escalator that takes visitors to the earliest part of the collection, the Tudor portraits.
In January 2008, the Gallery received its largest single donation to date, a £5m gift from Aston Villa Chairman and U.S. billionaire Randy Lerner.
In January 2012, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge announced the National Portrait Gallery as one of her official patronages.Her portrait was unveiled in January 2013. Reports in February 2014 revealed that the gallery holds nearly 20 portraits of Harriet Martineau and her brother James Martineau, whose great-nephew Francis Martineau Lupton was the Duchess's great-great-grandfather.
Bodelwyddan Castle's partnership with the National Portrait Gallery came to an end in 2017 after its funding was cut by Denbighshire County Council.
It was announced on 15 June 2017 that the NPG has been awarded funding of £9.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards its major transformation programme Inspiring People, the Gallery’s biggest ever development.The Gallery had already raised over £7m of its £35.5m target. The building works are scheduled to start in 2020. The project's full title is subtitled Transforming the reach of the National Portrait Gallery
In addition to the busts of the three founders of the gallery over the entrance, the exterior of two of the original 1896 buildings are decorated with stone block busts of eminent portrait artists, biographical writers and historians. These busts, sculpted by Frederick R. Thomas, depict James Granger, William Faithorne, Edmund Lodge, Thomas Fuller, The Earl of Clarendon, Horace Walpole, Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Anthony van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Louis François Roubiliac, William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Francis Chantrey.
The National Portrait Gallery is an executive non-departmental public body of the UK Government, sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
The National Portrait Gallery's total income in 2007–2008 amounted to £16,610,000, the majority of which came from government grant-in-aid (£7,038,000) and donations (£4,117,000).As of 31 March 2008, its net assets amounted to £69,251,000. In 2008, the NPG had 218 full-time equivalent employees. It is an exempt charity under English law.
On 14 July 2009, the National Portrait Gallery sent a demand letter alleging breach of copyright against an editor-user of Wikipedia, who downloaded thousands of high-resolution reproductions of public domain paintings from the NPG website, and placed them on Wikipedia's sister media repository site, Wikimedia Commons.The Gallery's position was that it held copyright in the digital images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, and that it had made a significant financial investment in creating these digital reproductions. Whereas single-file low resolution images were already available on its website, the images added to Wikimedia Commons were re-integrated from separate files after the user "found a way to get around their software and download high-resolution images without permission."
In 2012, the Gallery licensed 53,000 low-resolution images under a Creative Commons licence, making them available free of charge for non–commercial use. A further 87,000 high-resolution images are available for academic use under the Gallery's own licence that invites donations in return; previously, the Gallery charged for high-resolution images.
As of 2012 [update] , 100,000 images, around a third of the Gallery's collection, had been digitised.
An art museum or art gallery is a building or space for the display of art, usually from the museum's own collection. It might be in public or private ownership and may be accessible to all or have restrictions in place. Although primarily concerned with visual art, art galleries are often used as a venue for other cultural exchanges and artistic activities, such as performance arts, music concerts, or poetry readings. Art museums also frequently host themed temporary exhibitions which often include items on loan from other collections.
The Courtauld Institute of Art, commonly referred to as The Courtauld, is a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art and conservation. It is among the most prestigious institutions in the world for these disciplines and is widely known for the disproportionate number of directors of major museums drawn from its small body of alumni.
The National Portrait Gallery is a historic art museum located between 7th, 9th, F, and G Streets NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Founded in 1962 and opened to the public in 1968, it is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collections focus on images of famous Americans. The museum is housed in the historic Old Patent Office Building, as is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The two museums are the eponym for the Gallery Place Washington Metro station, located at the corner of F and 7th Streets NW.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is an art museum on Queen Street, Edinburgh. The gallery holds the national collections of portraits, all of which are of, but not necessarily by, Scots. It also holds the Scottish National Photography Collection.
Sir Charles Robert Saumarez Smith is a British cultural historian specialising in the history of art, design and architecture. He is the current Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He was Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 1994 to 2002 and the Director of the National Gallery from 2002 to 2007. He has published various articles and books including The Company of Artists:The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and was a judge at the World Architecture Festival 2014 in Singapore and the Young Masters 2014 awards in London.
Stephen Finer is a London-based artist, active since the 1980s.
Sir Peter Lely was a painter of Dutch origin whose career was nearly all spent in England, where he became the dominant portrait painter to the court.
Jonathan Yeo is a British artist who rose to international prominence in his early 20s as a contemporary portraitist, having painted Kevin Spacey, Dennis Hopper, Cara Delevingne, Damien Hirst, Prince Philip, Erin O'Connor, Tony Blair, and David Cameron among others. GQ has called him ‘one of the worlds most in-demand portraitists’. He was educated at Westminster School.
John Trevor Hayes was a British art historian and museum director. He was an authority on the paintings of Thomas Gainsborough.
Bodelwyddan Castle, close to the village of Bodelwyddan, near Rhyl, Denbighshire in Wales, was built around 1460 by the Humphreys family of Anglesey as a manor house. Its most important association was with the Williams-Wynn family, which extended for around 200 years from 1690. It is a Grade II* Listed Building. Having been opened to the public as a historic house museum, as of 2019, it is up for sale.
In July 2009, lawyers representing the National Portrait Gallery of London (NPG) sent an email letter warning of possible legal action for alleged copyright infringement to Derrick Coetzee, an editor/administrator of the free content multimedia repository Wikimedia Commons, hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Abraham Lincoln is a public artwork by American sculptor and medallist Thomas Dow Jones, located in the Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The painted plaster bust of Abraham Lincoln that resides in the Indiana Statehouse is a copy of an 1861 clay bust. Several versions of the bust exist in plaster, marble, and bronze mediums.
Richard Cockle Lucas was an English sculptor and photographer.
Peter Douglas Edwards,, is a British painter. Winner of the 1994 BP Portrait Award.
Tarnya Cooper is an art historian and author. She was 16th Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London and in 2011 was appointed Chief Curator.
Charles I in Three Positions, also known as the Triple Portrait of Charles I, is an oil painting of Charles I of England by Flemish artist Sir Anthony van Dyck, showing the king from three viewpoints: left full profile, face on, and right three-quarter profile. Painted in 1635 or 1636, it is currently part of the Royal Collection. The colours of the costumes and pattern of the lace collars are different in each portrait, though the blue riband of the Order of the Garter is present in all three.
Henry Jamyn Brooks (1839–1925) was a British painter, particularly known for his pictures of meetings and events, in which many individuals are personally identifiable. He painted royalty, and portraits of civic leaders and military people, and was also a photographer.
Paul Benney is a British artist who rose to international prominence as a contemporary artist whilst living and working in New York in the 1980's and later in the 90's in the UK as an award-winning portraitist.
James Essex Holloway CBE is a British art historian, and was director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery from 1997 until 2012.
Portrait of Anne, Countess of Chesterfield is a large oil-on-canvas painting by the English portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough, completed between 1777 and 1778. It shows Anne Stanhope, wife of Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield, sitting in a blue and while satin dress, sitting in a garden, and is one of the best known of Gainsborough's many portraits of English aristocrats.
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