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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A selection of portraits linked to Activity. If you are looking for a specific Activity you can explore the Advanced Search feature and choose the Activity option under Subjects and Themes.


Portraits that show sitters dancing or in places where dancing takes place.

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Drinking and eating

Portraits that show sitters drinking or eating, or where food and drink figure prominently.

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Making art

Portraits that show painters, sculptors and photographers in the act of making art.

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Making music

Portraits that show musicians making music or holding musical instruments.

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Portraits that show sitters reading or holding books and other reading material.

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Portraits that show sitters sleeping or at rest with their eyes closed.

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Portraits that show sitters smoking or holding cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

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Portraits that show sitters writing or holding writing materials.

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Tell us More about our silhouettes, photograph of Hubert Leslie, Silhouettist

Identify our Silhouettes

Join enthusiastic contributors who have already identified 155 sitters.

Help transcribe signatures

Tell us More about our Silvy sitters, photograph of Camille Silvy, photographer with boy

Tell us more about our Silvy sitters

Help us identify the sitters who visited Camille Silvy’s photographic studio during the 1860s.

Identify our sitters