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.

Advanced Collection search

Restoration Lives: Samuel Pepys and His Circle

Past display archive 
31 March - 26 October 2003

Room 6

Admission Free


2003 marks the tercentenary of the death of the famous diarist Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703). The National Portrait Gallery will be celebrating the occasion with a special display and a two-day conference in September.

Samuel Pepys recorded his observations about life in London after the Restoration at a dramatic moment in history. He was among those who brought Charles II back to England to be crowned King and he watched the fire of London engulf the city in 1666. As a successful civil servant he had access to influential circles and his remarkable diary, begun in 1660, records his relationships with hundreds of men and women of his time. A special display in Room 6 will explore their lives and personalities through Pepys's critical and perceptive eye.

Portraits on display include many of those who knew Pepys well, such as Navy colleagues, actresses, painters, his patron Edward Montagu, (Earl of Sandwich) and the King himself. Pepys's own wife Elizabeth, whom despite his many infidelities, he clearly loved, is represented by a plaster bust. Portraits of his associates Sir John Harman, Sir William Petty, George Monck, (Ist Earl of Albermarle) and the architect Christopher Wren have been brought out of storage especially for this display.


Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story