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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Profile or shadow portrait filled in with black or a dark colour. A common pictorial technique in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was named after Etienne de Silhouette (1709–1767), a French finance minister who made paper cut-outs as a hobby.

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Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

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Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

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