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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Invented in Paris by L.J.M. Daguerre in 1839, it was the first commercial photographic process. It used a copper plate with a polished silver surface sensitized by iodine fumes which was exposed in a camera, and the image developed over heated mercury vapour. There is no negative but a reversed plate mounted behind protective glass in a decorative case. It became a widely popular process for portraiture as refinements in technique were made and exposure times considerably reduced.

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John Holmes
after a wax medallion by Richard Cockle Lucas
mid 19th century, based on a work of 1849-1850
NPG 1781a

Henry Brinley Richards
by Unknown photographer
circa 1850
NPG P1317

Robert Stephenson
by Unknown photographer
circa 1851

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
by William Edward Kilburn
circa 1852
NPG P1027

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