For this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month, we will be celebrating key figures from the Gallery’s Collection. Check in, as we share new content throughout February, including a special blog feature from author of ‘A Dutiful Boy’ and barrister Mohsin Zaidi, and a pre-recorded in conversation with special guest speakers.
Talk Art x National Portrait Gallery
We invited Talk Art hosts Russell Tovey and Robert Diament to discuss their favourite LGBTQ+ artists from the Collection. Watch as they reflect on the life and work of David Hockney, Maggi Hambling, Isaac Julien and Howard Hodgkin.
From Olympic athletes to aristocrats, our staff have shared their favourite LGBTQ+ sitters from our Collection.
by Kate Peters, 2012, NPG P1831
"I love this photograph of Nicola Adams - she looks so strong, determined and in control. I remember feeling so proud of her winning Gold at London 2012 when she became the first female boxer to become an Olympic champion and I really enjoyed watching her take to the dancefloor on Strictly Come Dancing last year as the first celebrity to perform in a same-sex pairing. What a star!"
Juno, Families & Young People's Programme Manager
by Roger Fry, 1894, NPG 2447
"Carpenter was a poet, philosopher, and an early gay rights activist. During a time when homosexuality was illegal, and particularly a hot topic following the Oscar Wilde trial of 1895, Carpenter lived openly gay with his partner Merrill. The courage he showed to stand up and live his life freely and openly is a constant reminder to me as a gay man that I can overcome some of the bigotry we unfortunately still face today. I also find that this portrait has a strong contemporary feel to it, it’s almost hard to believe it's Victorian!"
Sean, Assistant Collections Registrar
by Bassano Ltd, 1938, NPG x138263
"It’s so unusual and striking to see a woman posed and dressed like this in the 1930s, I had to find out more about her. She and her partner Blanche Badcock were both talented rifle shots who had met while serving with the Women’s Legion of Motor Drivers during the war. When Marjorie won the coveted sovereign’s prize for rifle shooting in 1930 (the first time a woman had won in 140 years) the people of her town were so proud of her that they clubbed together and presented her with a car. Her other unusual pursuits included poultry farming and sculpture."
Julia, Digital Collections Manager
by Jane Bown, 1964, NPG x133114
"It’s important to me because doing ballet has always made me feel more confident in myself, and I particularly like the stillness and determination of this portrait."
Natasha, Collections Officer
Marion Barbara ('Joe') Carstairs
by Pacific & Atlantic Photos Ltd, 1928, NPG x184361
"Born Marion Barbara Carstairs in 1900, but known as Joe, she was the heiress to multimillions and had the privilege to challenge the norm for women at the time. I find this photograph compelling because Joe mostly wore traditional men’s clothes, making this image in a skirt suit more unusual. Joe is also accompanied by her toy doll Lord Tod Wadley, a gift from her girlfriend Ruth Baldwin, which remained with her until her death in 1993."
Emily, Inspiring People Participation Manager
by Gluck, 1942, NPG 6462
"It is hard not to be impressed by Gluck’s self-portrait – defiant, confident and talented are all words that quickly spring to mind. In body, Gluck defied the societal norms of the 1940s preferring to dress in men’s clothes; she defined herself as ‘Gluck, no prefix, suffix, or quotes'. This self-portrait is particularly meaningful to me as Gluck moved to my hometown Steyning in West Sussex two years after completing this work. She lived in a beautiful Georgian house just off Church Street for 34 years until her death in 1978. Her ashes were scattered in the garden there and her spirit lives on as part of Steyning’s community."
Lydia, Assistant Curator, Cross-Collections
by Murray Korman, 1936, NPG 38145
“I adore this photograph of Josephine Baker from the Photographs Collection. She looks to have recently 'beamed' down to earth, transcending time and space. Perhaps many of her contemporaries may have viewed her as someone belonging elsewhere, given her approach to life. To me she is a timeless figure who upheld strong values and achieved so much in her many guises: as an entertainer, campaigner, activist and spy. As an adoptive mother to a diverse group of children known as her 'rainbow tribe', she wanting to prove that "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers."
Speak Its Name! Quotations by and about gay men and women
A collection of moving, amusing and inspirational quotations by and about prominent gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and allies, from Oscar Wilde to Tom Daley, Radclyffe Hall to Sandi Toksvig, illustrated with images from the Gallery’s Collection.