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


A method of printmaking where the parts of the image that will take the ink are engraved or etched into a metal plate - the opposite of relief. Ink is then applied and raised areas wiped clean, leaving the grooves filled with ink and the surface clean. Soft, dampened paper is laid over the plate, and both paper and plate are put through the rollers of an etching press. The pressure forces the paper into the grooves, so that it takes up the ink leaving an indented impression on the paper. Plates are engraved either by engraving and drypoint, in which the plate is cut into by hand, or by etching in which acid bites into the surface.

Previous 1 OF 1 Next

Samuel Johnson
by Unknown artist
(19th century)
NPG D7040

Previous 1 OF 1 Next


Pioneer Podcasts

Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.

Explore the podcasts

Untitled, c.1973 (Alex Chilton) by William Eggleston © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Eggleston Playlist

William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.

Listen to the playlist

Archive interviews

Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.

Watch, listen and read