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

Lunchtime Lecture: J. Lyons, National Portrait Gallery and a Cup of Tea with Thomas Harding

Past event archive
5 December 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

Writer Thomas Harding gives a panoramic new history of modern Britain, as told through the story of his own extraordinary ancestors and one round-breaking company: Lyons & Co. He will reference portraits in the Gallery's Collection, including those of his grandfather, Sam Salmon, chairman of Lyon’s & Co. from 1965 to 1968, great-grandfather Isidore Salmon, chairman 1929-1941, and the artist Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein, 1895-1978), niece of the company's founders.

For over a century, Lyons was everywhere. Its restaurants and corner houses were on every high street, its coffee and tea in every cup, its products in every home. By bringing the world to the British people, the company transformed the way we eat, drink and are entertained – democratising luxury and globalising our tastes. But it was a victory that was not easily won – a story of the virtue of hard work, perseverance and an indomitable spirit in the face of repeated obstacles: poverty, hatred and injustice. It is a tale that is rarely told, of an immigrant family’s journey from rags to riches: the story of poverty, hatred and anti-Semitism.

Thomas Harding is a journalist who has written for the Sunday Times, Financial Times and the Guardian, among other publications. He co-founded a television station in Oxford, and for many years was an award-winning publisher of a newspaper in West Virginia. He is also the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz; the acclaimed Kadian Journal; A Father’s StoryThe House by the Lake, a Costa Biography Award and Orwell Prize nominee; and Blood on the Page, winner of the 2018 Gold Dagger Award.

Following his lecture, Thomas will be signing copies of Legacy in the Gallery’s Bookshop, Floor 0.