National Portrait Gallery

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National Portrait Gallery

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Information
Era 1856
Known Names
Influencers Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Thomas Carlyle
George Scharf
Benjamin Disraeli
Address

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The National Portrait Gallery in London is an art museum containing portraits of famous British people, and it is the first portrait gallery in the world. The collection of portraits in the gallery includes photographs, caricatures, paintings, and drawings.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery was constructed in 1856 with the purpose of focusing on history rather than art. The portraits in the gallery were chosen based on the importance of the person in the portrait, rather than the popularity of the painter. Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope was primarily responsible for the establishment of the art gallery. Thomas Babington Macaulay and Thomas Carlyle were his most loyal supporters. These three men were biographers and historians. In 1846 and 1852, Stanhope presented the idea to the House of Commons, but it was not received well. He tried a third time in 1856 by pleading for the establishment of the gallery in the House of Lords. The gallery was finally established on December 2, 1856 with Stanhope, Benjamin Disraeli, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and Lord Ellesmere as trustees. A rule was set by the trustees that “No portrait of any person still living, or deceased less than 10 years, shall be admitted by purchase, donation, or bequest, except only in the case of the reigning Sovereign, and of his or her Consort.” However, the rule was changed in 1969 to allow the admission of portraits of important people who are still alive. The gallery includes a portrait of William Shakespeare, which was attributed to John Taylor. It was the first artwork that became a part of the gallery, and it was donated by Lord Ellesmere. The museum also contains a portrait of Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope, which was painted by George Herbert Watkins. It also contains self-portraits such as the Sir George Scharf’s drawing of himself on the side of the street. Statues and sculptures can also be found in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Famous

  • William Shakespeare, John Taylor
  • Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope, George Herbert Watkins
  • Sir George Scharf, George Scharf
  • Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen, Walter Tittle
  • Sir George Scharf, Walter William Ouless

Fun Facts

  • The architecture of the gallery is of the Florentine Renaissance type.
  • A bust of Stanhope and two of his colleagues can be found above the entrance of the gallery.
  • The gallery had a rat problem during World War II.

Related Articles

  • John Taylor
  • George Herbert Watkins
  • George Scharf
  • Walter William Ouless
  • Walter Tittle

References

Examples of Artwork in the National Portrait Gallery

Portrait Of George Gordon 6Th Baron Byron Of Rochdale In Albanian Dress, 1813

Portrait Of George Gordon 6Th Baron Byron Of Rochdale In Albanian Dress, 1813

Portrait Of Frances Howard (1590-1632) Countess Of Somerset, Circa 1615

Portrait Of Frances Howard (1590-1632) Countess Of Somerset, Circa 1615

Portrait Of William Cecil, 1St Baron Burghley (1520-98) Lord High Treasurer

Portrait Of William Cecil, 1St Baron Burghley (1520-98) Lord High Treasurer

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