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

Parking:
Find car parks near National Portrait Gallery
Taxis:
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Buses:
3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 24, 87, 91, 139, 176
Bus fares 2019
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
Train fares 2019
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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.

 
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  • 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.”

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Events at National Portrait Gallery

Elizabethan Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver    to

Martin Parr -- Only Human    to

Cindy Sherman — National Portrait Gallery    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 Piccadilly Circus); Tate Britain (walk it in 26 mins or catch a train from Charing Cross to Pimlico) and Wallace Collection (walk it in 26 mins or catch a train from Charing Cross to Bond Street).

Scenes of Parisian Life: National Gallery French artist Louis-Leopold Boilly worked in revolutionary Paris and witnessed the rise and fall of Napoleon.
Elizabethan Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver The Elizabethan Treasures exhibition brings together many of the best miniature paintings from the 16th and 17th-century
Alfred Munnings: Horse artist from World War I World War I paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings created when he was part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Phyllida Barlow at the Royal Academy The RA will be showing one of Phyllida Barlow's large-scale installations in the new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Gallery
Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light The National Gallery will be putting on a rare exhibition of sixty works by the Spanish Impressionist painter Joaquin Sorolla
Burne-Jones exhibition at Tate Britain Tate Britain will be putting on a retrospective of work by the last of the Pre-Raphaelites, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.
Craig’s review of 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 reds and warm golds and full of huge oil portraits ten feet across. The antique furniture is full of black statues and gilded porcelain and golden trophy plates. They've got urns and clocks and h… continued
Craig’s review of 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. That's enough art for most people. They don't want to overdose on it. But if you're seriously into paintings then here's a tip from me: the best ones to visit are the National Gallery, Courtauld… continued
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