Press Release: 150th Anniversary Gala

150th Anniversary LogoFebruary 2006

National Portrait Gallery launches its 150th anniversary with fundraising gala

The Portrait Gala, Tuesday 28 February 2006
Headline Sponsor Herbert Smith
In association with Dom Pérignon

Mario Testino, Bruce Oldfield, Sam Taylor-Wood, Sophie Dahl, Jerry Hall - artists and sitters join forces to raise money for the National Portrait Gallery's 150th Anniversary Appeal: 'Collecting for the Future

The National Portrait Gallery launches its 150th Anniversary celebrations on Tuesday 28 February with a gala event to raise funds for the Anniversary Appeal 'Collecting for the Future' to help acquire great portraits for the nation. Artists such as Stuart Pearson Wright, Maggi Hambling and David Hockney and supporters such as Sophie Dahl, Rory Bremner, Jerry Hall and Neil Tennant will attend the Portrait Gala. Mario Testino, Sam Taylor-Wood, Peter Blake and Tom Phillips amongst others have donated auction promises and many artists, sitters and well-known individuals have contributed Mystery Postcards for sale on the night.

At 6.55pm on Tuesday 28 February, just before the Gala begins, the Chair of the Portrait Gala Committee, Jane Asher will officially launch the celebrations outside the main entrance by switching on the Gallery's beautiful new lighting enabling the front of the Gallery and the commemorative plaques of the founders to be seen as never before. The Gala will start a year of celebrations which include on March 2 the opening of two of the Gallery's eagerly awaited 150th Anniversary exhibitions. Visitors will be able to see Searching for Shakespeare - which brings together for the first time the six major contender portraits of Shakespeare including the Gallery's founding portrait , the Chandos - and Icons and Idols: Commissioning Contemporary Portraits which brings together highlights of the last 25 years of Gallery portrait commissions.

For one week following the Gala, visitors will also be able to see a special display of 150 Mystery Postcards sold on the evening of the Gala for £150 each on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests who have bought the Mystery Postcards will only discover the identity of their mystery artist when the display is taken down.

Gala Guests will be able to bid in the 'Silent Portrait Auction' for prizes which include a couture dress inspired by Joshua Reynolds's portrait of Johanna Lloyd by Bruce Oldfield, a specially signed photograph of Gwyneth Paltrow by Mario Testino, a Chuck Close 2004 Self-Portrait, a portrait of Julian Cope by Sam Taylor-Wood or a watercolour of Kate Moss by Peter Blake. Other auction promises include a sitting for a Gerald Scarfe caricature and the opportunity to sit for the artists Jonathan Yeo or Stuart Pearson Wright.

A Portrait Gala Anniversary Raffle will offer 50 luxury prizes including a Philip Treacy hat, Paul Smith watch, Jimmy Choo handbag, Mont Blanc pen as well as special experiences such as the chance to visit Highclere Castle with a tour by its owner, the Earl of Carnarvon.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: "We are delighted to be holding a special Portrait Gala to launch the 150th Anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery and especially pleased to have Herbert Smith as headline sponsor for the evening. We are very grateful to the Gala Committee and other supporters without whom this event would not have been possible. The purpose of the Portrait Gala is to raise funds for the Gallery's 150th Anniversary Appeal: Collecting for the Future and we hope that monies raised for the Appeal will help to secure portraits for the nation that the Gallery would otherwise have been unable to acquire."

David Gold, Senior Partner of headline sponsor and Anniversary Partner Herbert Smith says:
"We extend our best wishes to the National Portrait Gallery for what promises to be a memorable start to its 150th Anniversary. All the ingredients are there to make it a hugely entertaining and worthwhile evening."

A spokesperson for Dom Pérignon, who will provide the highly acclaimed Dom Pérignon 1998 described by wine critics as "disarmingly delicious" and "the most forward vintage for years," says: "We are delighted to be celebrating 150 years of the National Portrait Gallery. We believe Dom Pérignon is the creation of something spectacular. It is therefore very apt we drink it tonight, at the 150th Anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery, amongst some of the greatest creators in this country."

Winsor & Newton, who are providing sketchbooks as table gifts for guests to take away, have said "we are proud to be associated with the National Portrait Gallery, and wish them a happy 150th Anniversary."

Other suppliers who have made the event possible are caterer Alison Price, Event Concept-lighting, IML-Auction Technology, Metro- Technical Production, Prelude Entertainment Music, Rufus Leonard - Print Design, Searcy's at the Portrait Restaurant and Veevers Carter Flowers.

For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery, Tel 020 7312 2452 (not for publication) 07790 428638 Email

Notes to Editors

  • National Portrait Gallery opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday 10am - 6pm Late Opening: Thursdays and Fridays until 9pm Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Admission is free.
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