National Portrait Gallery

As the name reveals, the National Portrait Gallery in London is home to a collection of portraits of important British people, both historically and culturally. When it opened in 1856, it was the first portrait gallery of its kind in the world. In 1896, the gallery moved to its current location at St. Martin's Place just off of Trafalgar Square and next to the National Gallery.

In addition to having outposts in Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire and the Montacute House in Somerset, the National Portrait Gallery has already undergone two expansions and established a connection with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, with which it shares its remit. The National Portrait Gallery was founded after a third proposal by Philip Henry Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Stanhope, which was submitted to the House of Lords and approved by Queen Victoria. Since its existence, the gallery was housed in several different locations across London. With each expansion in the collection size, the location had to change. Its permanent location at St. Martin's Place was opened on April 4, 1896. To preserve the collection during the Second World War, works were stored at Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, next to pieces from the Royal Collection.

Works for the gallery are selected based on the person depicted in the portrait, and not based on the author of the work. This is why not all of the portraits are of a high artistic degree, although the gallery does include works by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and others. Next to paintings, the extensive collection includes photographs, caricatures, drawings, and sculptures. Some notable portraits hang in the gallery. One of them is the Chandos portrait, which is said to depict the famous playwright William Shakespeare, although it cannot be confirmed that this is actually him. Portraits of still living individuals were allowed in 1969 and now also has exhibition spaces dedicated to more contemporary works. The museum is open daily and admission is free.

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