Queen Victoria, by Hills & Saunders, July 1893 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Queen Victoria
by Hills & Saunders
July 1893

Gallery discussions for GCSE students last an hour or 90 minutes with a historical activity focusing on significance. See Cross-curricular sessions for topics like democracy or slavery with strong Citizenship links.  This year we have introductory talks to exhibitions on the First World War and on Elizabethan times. Free CPD for teachers also available.

Gallery session:

  • 1 hour or 90 minutes with activity
  • Maximum 30 students


  • 1 hour
  • Maximum 138 students

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu with her son, Edward Wortley Montagu, and attendants, attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour, circa 1717 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu with her son, Edward Wortley Montagu, and attendants
attributed to Jean Baptiste Vanmour
circa 1717
NPG 3924

We can provide historical discussion sessions in the following periods - portraits can be tailored to suit your curriculum requirements.


A discussion of four to six key portraits as historical evidence, including iconic images of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Please specify when booking and we can tailor the session towards early Tudor or Elizabethan portraiture.


A discussion focusing on four to six key portraits as historical evidence. Please specify when booking if you wish the session to be tailored towards Elizabethan portraiture in general or on the changing image of Queen Elizabeth I (this may be partly taught in the Lecture Theatre).


Focusing on key portraits including iconic works by Van Dyck which were then copied and adapted for Cromwell and the Parliamentarians, this session focuses on both sides of the Civil War and the decades preceding it. The emphasis is on questioning the reliability of these images as historical sources.

Georgians and Regency 

Examines the large scale group portraits the Reformed House of Commons in 1833 and the Anti-Slavery Convention, as well as individual portraits of key literary and scientific figures such as Wordsworth and Jenner.


Examines how key images, including of Queen Victoria, were constructed to give powerful propaganda messages about Britain and its relationship with the wider world.

We also offer three GCSE sessions which support the Schools History Project (SHP).

Medicine Through Time

Session relates to the SHP GCSE unit on Medicine through Time and also to the QCA KS3 Science Schemes of Work, Unit 8C, ‘Microbes and Disease'.

Analysing portraits of key medical pioneers and patients as sources of historical evidence. Select two focus areas:

  • Bleeding and blood circulation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (including William Harvey)
  • Inoculation and vaccination in the eighteenth century (including Mary Wortley Montagu and Edward Jenner)
  • Women in nineteenth century medicine (including Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole)
  • Medical advances and World War II (including Alexander Fleming)
  • Maximum 30 students
  • 1 hour

Elizabethan England

How did Elizabeth I manipulate her own portraiture to promote her sovereignty? What was the role of portraits in the management of Elizabethan courtiers? These topics, and the use of portraits in this period as sources of historical evidence, are the focus of this in-depth discussion.

  • Maximum 30 students
  • 1 hour

Britain 1815-1851

Combining an exploration of the large scale painting Reformed House of Commons in 1833, with images of key political and social figures and technological innovators, particularly connected with developing the railways, students explore the changes of the period through the achievements of individual sitters and consider the role played by portraiture in reflecting old and new values and aspirations.

  • Maximum 30 students
  • 1hour