You should visit this wonderful place in London to have amazing experiences here while traveling to England.
Things to know
What makes the National Portrait Gallery so compelling is its familiarity; in many cases, you’ll have heard of the subject (royals, scientists, politicians, celebrities) or the artist (Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Lucian Freud) but not necessarily recognize the face. Highlights include the famous ‘Chandos portrait’ of William Shakespeare, the first artwork the gallery acquired (in 1856) and believed to be the only likeness made during the playwright’s lifetime, and a touching sketch of novelist Jane Austen by her sister.
A further highlight is the ‘Ditchley’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth I displaying her might by standing on a map of England, her feet on Oxfordshire. The collection is organized chronologically (starting with the early Tudors on the 2nd floor), and then by theme. The 1st-floor portraits illustrate the rise and fall of the British Empire through the Victorian era and the 20th century. Don’t miss the high-kitsch statue of Victoria and Albert in Anglo-Saxon dress in Room 21.
The ground floor is dedicated to modern figures, using a variety of media (sculpture, photography, video etc). Among the most popular have been the iconic Blur portraits by Julian Opie, Sam Taylor-Johnson’s David, a (low-res by today’s standards) video-portrait of David Beckham asleep after football training and Michael Craig-Martin’s Dame Zaha Hadid. Don’t miss Self by Mark Quinn, a frozen, refrigerated sculpture of the artist’s head, made from 4.5L of his own blood and recast every five years. The excellent audio guide (£3) highlights more than 300 portraits and allows you to hear the voices of some of the subjects and artists.
The Portrait restaurant does wonderful food and has superb views towards Westminster.
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 three people largely responsible for the founding of the National Portrait Gallery are commemorated with busts over the main entrance. At center 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.
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