Research programmes at the Gallery

The Gallery’s research programmes support its mission to promote an understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture and to promote the appreciation of portraiture in all media.  As such its major research areas are history, biography and the history of art and photography from the sixteenth century to the present day.  

This interdisciplinary approach is conducted both through research on the Gallery’s own collections and through fostering research into the broader field of portraiture.  Collections based research programmes include the Gallery’s commitment to a continuation of detailed catalogues together with comprehensive iconographies of those represented in the Collection.   Its fellowship programmes, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, follows a long-standing commitment to encourage and assist the work of scholars from outside the Gallery.  It also supports research into its subject area through its Archive and Library and through online resources such as British painters and artists’ suppliers.

The Gallery also embarks on large-scale one off projects, often working in partnership with others.   Examples include our research for the ten thousand portrait images in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the current Making Art in Tudor Britain.

Research is fundamental to the Gallery, informing everything from these major projects to day-to-day activities such as acquisitions and displays.  In recognition of this, the Gallery was made one of the first eight Independent Research Organisations by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.



Queen Mary I, by Master John, 1544 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Queen Mary I
by Master John
1544
NPG 428