National Photographic Record: prints by Walter Bird, 1958-67
1150 Portraits in set
The National Photographic Record began in 1917, during the First World War, at the instigation of Walter Stoneman, the chief photographer for the long established firm of Russell & Sons. A selected range of eminent people of the day were invited to make an appointment to sit at Stoneman's studio and from each sitting a mounted print was added to the NPR. Reproduction fees from the publication of any of these photographs were shared between the photographer and the National Portrait Gallery. The collection was made for record purposes only, with no intention of the results being exhibited. Despite controversy caused by working exclusively with one selected photographer, the collection of postcard-sized prints of eminent people of the day grew over the years to an archive of over 10,000 subjects. Each year approximately 200 new subjects were added to an alphabetical sequence now housed in 436 boxes and viewable by appointment. Stoneman was succeeded, on his retirement and death, by Walter Bird (active 1958-1967), and then by Godfrey Argent (active 1967-1970). In addition, the Gallery also holds approximately 10,000 NPR whole- and half-plate glass negatives taken between 1917 and 1958, arranged chronologically, which consist of up to five alternative poses taken at the NPR sitting.