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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Oil paint consists of pigment mixed with an oil medium, usually linseed, and can be diluted with spirits. Because of its versatility, flexibility and rich and dense colour, oil has become the most popular painting medium for important works since the sixteenth century. It dries slowly, rather than sets, and can be painted over to create a great variety of effects from enamel smoothness to violent impasto. Both minute detail and subtle blending of tones can be achieved in a way no other painting technique can rival, the closest being acrylic.

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Enter our Jubilee family competition

Submit your family’s recreation of a Royal portrait to win some Jubilee goodies

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Develop your art skills

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

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Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

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

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Draw Like a Renaissance Master

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

Improve your technique