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

Illuminating women: Photographs by Mayotte Magnus

Illuminating women: Photographs by Mayotte Magnus

Illuminating women: Photographs by Mayotte Magnus

Past display archive
8 September 2018 - 7 April 2019

Room 32, Floor 1


Marina Warner
by Mayotte Magnus
NPG x138831

In 1977, the National Portrait Gallery staged a landmark exhibition, featuring nearly ninety portraits of eminent British women photographed by Mayotte Magnus. It was the first photographic exhibition in the Gallery’s history to focus exclusively on female achievement. In September, a new display will revisit a selection of key portraits from Magnus’s 1977 exhibition, alongside more recent acquisitions. The portraits were taken in the sitter’s homes or place of work, and are rich in narrative and composition. The display celebrates a range of creative women, including artists Liliane Lijn and Glenys Barton, authors Marina Warner and Margaret Drabble, actresses Glenda Jackson and Judi Dench and Nobel Prize recipient Nadine Gordimer.

Related Resources

Photographer in Focus
Mayotte Magnus in the Collection
1977 Mayotte Magnus: Photographs of Women exhibition
Mayotte Magnus website
Photographs Collection: displays

Mayotte Magnus Photographer – A Snapshot of an Artist

By Bob Scholes 2018

The making of this video coincided with the hanging of the display Illuminating Women: Photographs by Mayotte Magnus at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The biographical film looks at how Magnus began a career in photography, the techniques she has used, significantly in making portraits, and her life in France and the UK.

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video