National Portrait Gallery

Photo: Wikipedia
National Portrait Gallery map
Address:
National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place (just off Trafalgar Square) WC2H 0HE
Tel:
0207 306 0055
Web:
npg.org.uk

Opening times and price

Opening hours:
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 9 PM (Fri)
Visiting hours are subject to change
Ticket cost:
Adults free entry
Time required:
A typical visit to National Portrait Gallery lasts 1½-2 hours (approx)

Getting to National Portrait Gallery

Driving:
Service stations and parking near National Portrait Gallery
Taxis:
Minicab firms close to National Portrait Gallery
Buses:
3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 24, 87, 91, 139, 176 – London bus fares
Trains:
Charing Cross BKL NRN, Covent Garden PCL, Embankment BKL CRC DSC NRN, Leicester Square NRN PCL, Piccadilly Circus BKL PCL
The nearest train station to National Portrait Gallery is Charing Cross
Plan your journey from Earl’s Court, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria, Waterloo or another London Underground station:
Train journey to National Portrait Gallery
London train fares · Oyster fares · Travelcard fares · Contactless fares
Hotels:
Accommodation near National Portrait Gallery

Craig’s London blog> Read Craig’s review of the National Portrait Gallery  Check out my London blog for a full review

Good for kids? Value for money? free Worth a visit?

The National Portrait Gallery is No.7 in the Top 10 most popular attractions, and No.9 in the Top 10 art galleries.

The National Portrait Gallery opened in 1856 and moved to its present site near the National Gallery forty years later. All of the images are of Britons past and present – a history of England in pictures.

It is a rather peculiar gallery, in that the works are judged more by historical importance than artistic merit. The works are all about the status of the sitter, rather than the person painting the image. So its chief role is putting a face to the names that you read about in your history books.

The Tudor and Stuart Galleries

The galleries are arranged in chronological order, starting with a masterpiece. A huge portrait of Queen Elizabeth I strides across a map of Britain – storm clouds raging where the Spanish Armada sank into the sea.

A surfeit of monarchs follows, with studies of Henry VII, Henry VIII and James I.

The Henry VII piece is the oldest in the gallery – painted by an unknown artist in 1505.

The most important piece is probably the one of Henry VIII – painted by Hans Holbein in 1536.

Another intriguing piece is the Duke of Monmouth’s portrait. He was the illegitimate son of Charles II who rose up against his uncle – James II. When he was subsequently beheaded he was found to lack a picture, so an artist was quickly summoned while his head was still ‘fresh’, and knocked one out in 24-hours.

Authors at the National Portrait Gallery

If you’re after famous authors, then check out the Brontë Sisters. It was painted by their brother Branwell in 1834. After years of trying to make the grade in print, he died of drink, drugs and depression – you can even see where he painted himself out of the portrait.

There is also a controversial portrait of William Shakespeare – the Chandos portrait. This was the first piece to enter the collection – donated by Lord Ellesmere in 1856. Some people suggest that it isn’t him at all.

Other works include the only known likeness of Jane Austin (by her sister, Cassandra), and Samuel Pepys, William Wordsworth and George Bernard Shaw.

The photographic collection includes views of Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf and Lord Tennyson.

 
  • ian meyer – “I entered the summer exhibition at the royal academy once, and felt the same thing. When I went to pick up my painting I saw everything else I realised how 'normal' my painting was. They are looking for things that stand out when they hang them on the wall. If your painting is technically good, but otherwise pretty normal, then forget it. They will not give it a second look. What you need to paint is something that is different to everything else. The technique isn't the most important thing. You need to have an obvious style that is unique to you. I like to think of it as being the same as the x-factor. If all you are is a Decent singer, then you've got no chance. But if you chuck in a weird haircut and a geeky attitude that makes you stand out, then your odds go up remarkably.”
  • pamHMRC – “I think I much prefer the national portrait gallery to the tate gallery. Probably because the meanings behind the paintings are easier to ascertain. My history isn't that great, but I can recognise some kings and queens and famous celebrities. But I am hard pressed to recognise what any painting in the tate gallry is supposed to be about, all I can do is admire their beauty. So the p[ictures in the portrait gallery have an extra little something that draws you in.”

> Talk about this attraction

> Craig’s review of National Portrait Gallery – “If you're coming to London for a week then you have to find time for at least one art gallery. You can't just do fun stuff for seven days, that's not allowed. Art gallery first, then fun. Do your homework first, then you can watch some telly later. This is the art gallery that I always recommend if you aren't particularly into art, because it's half-art and half-hist… continued”

Events at National Portrait Gallery

Elizabethan Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver From to

Martin Parr -- Only Human to

Drop-in Drawing at the National Portrait Gallery

Queen Victoria -- Daughter, Wife, Mother, Widow

BP Portrait Award 2019 to

Cindy Sherman — National Portrait Gallery to

Elizabeth Peyton — National Portrait Gallery to

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters to

If you enjoy this then try: Courtauld Gallery (you can walk it 10 mins); National Gallery (you can walk there in less than 1 min); Royal Academy of Arts (walk it in 12 mins or catch a train from Charing Cross to Royal Academy of Arts); Tate Britain (walk it in 26 mins or catch a train from Charing Cross to Tate Britain) and Wallace Collection (walk it in 26 mins or catch a train from Charing Cross to Wallace Collection).

Top 10 Best art galleries in London Here’s our pick of the best galleries in London from classical art at the National and Courtauld to modern contemporary art at the Tate.
Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life In Drawing More than two hundred of Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings from the Royal Collection will be on display at the Queen's Gallery
Van Gogh and Britain The 40 paintings in this important exhibition will represent the largest collection of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in the UK for 10 years.
Diane Arbus: In The Beginning In The Beginning collects together more than 100 works by the American photographer Diane Arbus from her early career
Review Courtauld Gallery When people sit at home planning their itinerary they usually pencil in an hour or two for a gallery (they have to squeeze in a bit of culture), but it's usually the National or Tate Modern…
Review Wallace Collection The Wallace Collection came as a total surprise to me because I didn't realise how beautiful it was. The first two rooms I went in reminded me of Buckingham Palace. The walls are all velvet…
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