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.


A stick of colour used in drawing or painting made from powdered pigments mixed with chalk and gum. The immediacy of pastels made it a popular medium. Pastels are applied dry to paper and can be blended and mixed on the paper. Soft (or true) pastels are available in more than 600 tints. Whilst fresh and soft, they are however fragile, and can smudge and fall off the paper unless a fixative is used. Oil pastels come in a more limited range of colours and are greasier but adhere better.

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John Horne Tooke
by John Raphael Smith
exhibited 1811
NPG 6727

Tamara Karsavina
by Leon Kamir-Kaufman
NPG 5347

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