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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Primary Collection

The Primary Collection contains more than 11,000 portraits. Of these about 4,000 are paintings, sculptures and miniatures. In addition, there are almost 7,000 light-sensitive works on paper, shown on a rotating basis of about 300 items a year to avoid excessive light exposure and thus to minimise deterioration and fading.


The Gallery's collecting policy and the purpose of the Collection, and its display in London and beyond the Gallery.

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Search by sitter or artist surname within over 200,000 portraits.

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Commissioning of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and works in mixed media over the last 25 years.


Fulfilling the long-term preservation of all collection items in order to make them accessible now and in the future.

Visit the Collected Archives

Archive material that has been acquired by the Gallery from external sources because of its relevance to the study of British portraiture.