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.

Advanced Collection search


An airbrush uses a process of nebulization which allows the air operated tool to spray various media including ink and dye, but most often paint onto surfaces. An airbrush works by passing a stream of compressed air through a venturi, which creates a local reduction in air pressure that allows paint to be pulled up from an interconnected reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure. The high velocity of the air atomizes the paint into very tiny droplets as it blows past a very fine paint-metering component. The paint is carried onto paper or other surface.

Previous 1 OF 1 Next

Margaret Leighton as Flora Macdonald
by Anthony Wysard
published 1949
NPG D279

Previous 1 OF 1 Next


Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

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

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

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

Hear our story