National Portrait Gallery

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National Portrait Gallery London Reviews

WalterC WalterC
317 reviews
A very nice gallery to visit Apr 21, 2015
Located near Trafalgar Square and kind of behind the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery is a collection of portraits of people who helped shape the history of Britain.

Basically, it is a who’s who in British history. It starts with the Tudor period of the 1500’s, with the well-known Henry VIII, the king who married multiple times to try to get a male heir, and later broke from the Catholic Church.

From the Tudor period, the portrait gallery continues on, in chronological order. From the English Civil War, to the Romantic period and the Victorian period, all the way to the present day. And not only in politics, but also in literature and science as well. Some well-known names to find, include Oliver Cromwell, William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, Queen Victoria, and Charles Dickens. Much to my surprise, there is a portrait of George Washington as well. And some are just simply nice to look at.

Most (if not all) of the portraits have pretty good descriptions, giving you a little background on who they are.

There are a couple notable issues with this gallery. One, photography without flash is mostly allowed in the museum. I said “mostly”, because there are some that don’t allow photos due to copyright issues. There is a sign below the portrait, letting you know if allowed or not. I know, very odd! Two, sometimes, ones you look for, are not on display, usually due to being on loan to other museums. As the case for Elizabeth I, during my visit.

I was only able to see up to the 19th century, but from what I have been able to see on this visit, I thought it was mostly interesting. Very extensive, so I would recommend, pick the period that interests you the most, and focus on those. Either that, or get a guidebook or something that gives you the “best-of” tour of the place. I used the one from the Rick Steves London guidebook.

Admission is free, so you can definitely split your visits to this place. Definitely worth visiting.

And if you want to know who some of the people in the portraits, that are in this review, you can check out the museum web site, and use the search engine here...
Anne Boleyn and Queen Mary I
Sir Thomas More
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saima8 saima8
5 reviews
A free fantastic favorite! Mar 26, 2008
I have visited this gallery almost every day on every trip I have made to London since 1994. The gallery is all portraits in every media (oil paintings, sculpture, watercolors, photography), mainly British royalty, statespeople and celebrities from the early 1400s on.

The gallery is free, though some exhibits may cost a fee. I recently saw photos from Vanity Fair, which includes Demi Moore's famous pregnancy photo from 1990 and Kate Winslet's underwater homage to her Titanic character (1997).

The best exhibit is almost always tucked away in the bottom, in a small area near the bookshop and cafe. This month, it is called 'Closing Up Shop' and showed the proprietors of various small businesses in different towns in England standing outside businesses they have had for decades (not all remain today.)

And it has the best shop --- I got some cool postcards of Kate Moss and Paul Mccartney there for only 60 pence each!

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