The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

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How do you make commissioning decisions?

The National Portrait Gallery collection is by necessity selective rather than comprehensive, and this applies even more so to the commissioning programme which is intended to supplement rather than replace other forms of collecting. Decisions on subjects for commissions are made annually by the Gallery Trustees as a body, with a view to selecting about half a dozen individuals from a longer list.

Commissioning process

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Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

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Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

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