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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Art materials

Explore definitions and selected portraits from the Gallery's Collections in relation to over 140 different terms in this glossary of medium and support relating to painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and photography.


Glossary painting

Acrylic Airbrush Brush Canvas Cardboard Diptych Enamel Gesso Gilding Glaze Grisaille Ground Hardboard Impasto Linen Millboard Miniature Mixed media Oil Palette Palette knife Panel Pigment Plywood Polychromy Polyptych Stencil Stipple Tempera Triptych


Glossary photography

Albumen print Ambrotype Autochrome Bromesco Bromide print C-type colour print Cabinet print Calotype Carbon print Carte-de-visite Chlorobromide print Cibachrome print Collotype Contact Print Cyanotype Daguerreotype Digital imaging Diptych Dye-transfer print Embellishment Glass magic lantern/ slide Glass positive Hand-coloured Hologram Kodalith LCD screen Monochrome Negative Photo collage Photogalvanograph Photogravure Photomontage Platinotype Platinum print, Palladium print Polaroid Salt paper process Silver print or gelatin silver print Solarized print process Stereograph Vintage Print


Glossary drawing

Biro Body colour Caricature Cartoon Chalk Charcoal Chiaorscuro Collage Conté crayon Crayon Goldpoint Gouache Hatching Heightening Indian ink Ink Paper Pastel Pen Pen, ink and wash Pencil Plumbago Pouncing Sanguine Sepia Sgraffito Silhouette Silverpoint Stencil Stipple Stump Tracing, Tracing paper Vellum Wash Watercolour Wax resist


Glossary printmaking

Aquatint Caricature Chromolithograph Cigarette cards Drypoint Engraving Etching Ferrotype Gravure Intaglio Linocut Lithograph Lithographic chalk Mezzotint Platinotype Proof print Silk-screen printing Stipple Woodburytype Wood engraving Woodcut


Glossary sculpture

Assemblage Bronze Bust Cameo Carving Casting Ceramic Chasing Clay Cold cast Death mask Electrotyping Embossed Finishing Gold, Gold leaf Life mask Limestone Marble Medal Medallion Mixed media Modelling Mosaic Mould-making New materials Papier-mâché Parian ware Patination Plaque Plaster Plasticine Polyptych Relief Resin Sculptoon Statue Statuette Stone Terracotta Wax Wedgwood

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique