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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Research programmes

The Gallery’s research programmes support its mission to promote an understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture and to promote the appreciation of portraiture in all media. As such its major research areas are history, biography and the history of art and photography from the sixteenth century to the present day. This interdisciplinary approach is conducted both through research on the Gallery’s own collections and through fostering research into the broader field of portraiture.

Research partnerships

Working with individuals and organisations both as collaborators on research programmes and as funding partners.

Making Art in Tudor Britain

A major research project on early painting practice and the production of portraits in the Tudor and Jacobean periods.

British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950

British Artists' Suppliers focuses on the supply of painting materials to British artists, especially portrait painters, up until 1950.

British picture restorers, 1600-1950

A directory including a selection of more than 100 prominent and interesting picture, sculpture and paper restorers in Britain.

The Art of the Picture Frame

An update on the exhibition 'The Art of the Picture Frame', held at the Gallery in 1996-97 and giving information on current research.

Early history of mezzotint

The prints of Alexander Browne and Richard Tompson, two of the first and most important publishers of high quality mezzotints in Britain.

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Research work on detailed catalogues of Later Victorian Portraits, currently focussed on the Art and Architecture tranche.


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HM Queen Margrethe II’s distinguished postdoctoral fellowships on the subject of Danish-British portraiture are the result of a partnership between the Gallery and the National Museum of History in Frederiksborg, with the support of the Carlsberg Foundation. The fellowships began in April 2016 and will run for two years, with one of the fellows being based at the Gallery.

Anne of Denmark  (detailed)
by John De Critz the Elder
oil on canvas, circa 1605-1610
On display in Room 4 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 6918