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

Salt paper process

The earliest photographic process for making positive prints, invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1840. The print was made on high quality writing paper that had been immersed in a solution of common salt and then floated in a bath of silver nitrate. A finished salt print is matt in finish, reddish brown in colour, and has no surface gloss. It could be toned with a gold chloride for a richer, purplish tone and greater permanence. Salt prints were superceded by albumen prints in the 1850s.

Previous 1 OF 2 Next

Jane Octavia Brookfield (née Elton)
attributed to Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling
late 1840s
NPG P171(62)

Samuel Laurence
attributed to Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling
late 1840s
NPG P171(12)

John Barton Sterling
attributed to Sir Anthony Coningham Sterling
late 1840s
NPG P171(47)

Previous 1 OF 2 Next

Listen

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