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

Born in 1856

George Bernard Shaw
by Bernard Partridge
1894
NPG 4229

Past display archive 
28 January - 3 August 2006

Room 24 showcase

Free

This display focuses on the generation of exceptional individuals who were born in 1856, the year the National Portrait Gallery was founded. George Bernard Shaw, John Singer Sargent, Keir Hardie and Sigmund Freud are all included alongside less well-known figures who have nevertheless made a significant impact on the way we live today. They include Annie Rogers, the promoter of women's higher education, Sir Joseph John Thomson, the Nobel prize winning physicist, and William Willett, the inventor of daylight saving.

Most of these sitters made their mark in the twentieth century yet they were born at a time when Queen Victoria's own family was still expanding and Britain was embroiled in the Crimean War. Their lives form a bridge between the seemingly distant era of the mid-nineteenth century and a recognisably modern period with the development of the Labour Party, psychoanalysis and subatomic physics.


Keir Hardie
by (John) Furley Lewis
1902
NPG P1091

Join

Become a Member

Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more

Join today

Get social

Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.

Facebook Instagram Twitter

Newsletter

Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.

Sign up