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

Subjects and themes

To help visitors explore the Gallery's collections every portrait digitised is keyworded at the Gallery by subject, with five main categories: accessory, activity, dress, genre and theme. Some individual keywords in each category are illustrated with a selection of portraits below. To explore the full list of keywords in each category and the full set of portraits keyworded in each category, go to the Subjects and Themes section under Portrait in Advanced Search.


Objects and other elements within the portrait (examples: art, books, clocks, flowers, maps, mirrors, pets and textiles).

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What sitters are doing (examples: dancing, eating and drinking, making art and music, reading, sleeping and writing).

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What sitters are wearing and holding (examples: glasses, fans, gloves, hats, jewellery, umbrellas).

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Portraiture types (examples: self-portraits, group portraits, portraits of children and families, nudes, weddings).

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Overarching themes (examples: diversity, events and occasions, artists in their studios, words and inscriptions, gardens).

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Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

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Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

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Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

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