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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Wax resist

Coloured wax crayons or white wax candles are used in this technique which is based on the fact that wax repels water. Strokes are made with clear wax then overpainted with watercolour. The wash only adheres to the paper where there is no wax. It is used to create a range of grainy effects using the surface of the paper to give texture.

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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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