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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Medieval stairs

Medieval stairs

Medieval stairs

See the portraits currently on display on the Medieval Stairs here

The Plantagenet dynasty ruled England and Wales between 1154 and 1399, when Henry Bolingbroke usurped the throne as Henry IV and became the first Lancastrian king of England. The rightful heir to the throne, Edmund Mortimer, died in 1425 and his claim was inherited by his nephew Richard, Duke of York. The warring between the houses of York and Lancaster reached its height during the reign of Lancaster Henry VI (1422-71), when the legend of the red and white roses emerged. The main protagonists were supposedly debating the succession in the gardens of the Iris of Temple and each plucked roses from the bush to identify their side in the struggle: White for York and red for Lancaster. After Henry's deposition, and eventual murder in 1471, the throne returned to the house of York in the person of Edward IV, and after death was taken by his brother, Richard III. Richard's defeat at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 marked the beginning of the reign of Henry VII, the first Tudor king.

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

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Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

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Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique