The National Portrait Gallery - An Architectural History

Architectural History cover Architectural History interior spread Architectural History interior spread

245 x 276 (landscape), 240 pages
209 illustrations, 124 in colour, bibliography and notes
ISBN 1 85514 293 7
£40 (hardback)

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History of the National Portrait Gallery

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The National Portrait Gallery
An Architectural History
Graham Hulme, Brian Buchanan and Kenneth Powell
Photographic essay by John Goto

'This history is about the container, not the contents.' So state Graham Hulme and Brian Buchanan at the start of a fascinating account of the National Portrait Gallery's buildings, from its first home in an elegant Georgian terraced house, via South Kensington and Bethnal Green, to Ewan Christian's purpose-built institution in St Martin's Place. The authors examine exterior and interior with an eye both to architectural detail and practical purpose, such as the need for plenty of natural light, the radical intention of using sloping surfaces to carry exhibits and the importance of east access by short, gentle flights of stairs. Early chapters give the background of the parliamentary debates of the 1840s and 1850s that brought the Gallery into being; the anonymous donor who provided most of the funding for the St Martin's Place building; and the building's architect - his life, character and enormous output of some 2000 designs.

In 1933 a new wing - the Duveen - was added alongside the north block and in the 1980s an opportunity arose to extend the collection's accommodation across Orange Street. Since then improvements have been virtually continuous; author Kenneth Powell analyses the contributions of the famous contemporary architects who have left their mark on the Gallery: Roderick Gradidge, John Miller and Su Rogers, Piers Gough. The book ends with the NPG 2000 development, Jeremy Dixon and Edward Jones's masterplan, which slotted the new five-storey Ondaatje Wing between the Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.

A dramatic photographic essay by John Goto joins past with present. On site while the Ondaatje Wing materialised in the former service yard, he captured panoramas of steel, scaffold and roofscape, then digitally manipulated them into works of art that both record and revise reality.