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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Enquiry Services

Please note that the Heinz Archive & Library is currently closed as a precautionary measure to help contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are unable to accommodate physical visits for the time being.

Archive and Library staff cannot undertake detailed research on your behalf, but can supply further information about the Gallery’s collections. Brief enquiries about resources held by the Heinz Archive and Library can be directed to the Public Study Room.

Email: [email protected]

The Archive Enquiry Service can answer brief written and email enquiries relating to the portrait Collection and history of the Gallery if the information cannot be found online, for those unable to visit in person to carry out research. We aim to reply to written enquiries relating to the Gallery’s Collection or history within 20 working days of receipt. 

When contacting the service please clearly describe your enquiry relating to the Gallery’s Collection or history and submit it by post to Archive Enquiry Service, The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE; or by email to [email protected] Please note, the Gallery may retain correspondence and images in the Archive and Library for further reference and research purposes.

Although staff can answer enquiries about the portrait Collection and history of the Gallery, we are sorry that we cannot help with enquiries about general art history, family history, or portraits or other works of art not held by the Gallery, and we cannot give valuations or authenticate works of art. For advice on the valuation of works of art you should contact an auction house.

The Gallery began recording portraits from its foundation in 1856 and the Heinz Archive and Library holds over 1 million records of British portraits held in public and private collections worldwide. We continue to add to these resources and the Gallery welcomes information about portraits and portraiture from external sources. Members of the public may submit such to the Archive and Library. Please note, the Gallery may retain correspondence and images in the Archive and Library for further reference and research purposes.

If you do wish to research art history, family history, specific sitters, artists or British portraits not held by the Gallery, there are other options available to you.

  • You can undertake initial research yourself using further information available on the Gallery’s website, and search the online catalogues for its portrait, archive, and library collections.

Learn more about the Collection Search the portrait collections Learn about resources in the Heinz Archive and Library Search the Archive catalogue Search the Library catalogue How to research portraits using the Heinz Archive & Library How to research portraits in the Gallery’s Collection

  • You can search other public art collections across the UK via the Art UK website (previously known as the Public Catalogue Foundation)
  • You can make an appointment to visit the Archive and Library and carry out the research yourself; there is no charge to visit the Public Study Room of the Heinz Archive and Library in person. To make an appointment request please email [email protected] or telephone 020 7321 6617 between 10:00 and 17:00 Tuesday to Thursday.
  • You can employ an independent external researcher to carry out the research for you.

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