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

Picturing History: A portrait set of early kings and queens

Past display archive
19 July - 4 December 2011

Room 1

Free

A set of sixteen panel portraits was recently examined as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project. Portrait sets, particularly of English kings and queens, became popular in the second half of the sixteenth century. They were probably displayed high up in long galleries, halls and parlours, and acted as visual history lessons. Many of the surviving portraits from the late sixteenth century were most likely originally produced to be part of a set. Workshops were able to produce multiple copies, sometimes to order, using established portrait patterns from various sources. However, few sets have survived intact and technical analysis of the National Portrait Gallery set using techniques such as dendrochronology is providing fascinating insight into the way in which such sets were brought together.

Please note Picturing History: A portrait set of early kings and queens will be closed from Friday 7 September and re-open on Tuesday 18 September due to refurbishment.

Find out more

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Play

Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

Start now