National Portrait Gallery, London

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 Reviews

St Martins Place, WC2 0 20 7306 0055

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    National Portrait Gallery
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  • National Portrait Gallery from Trafalgar Square
    National Portrait Gallery from Trafalgar...
    by xoxoxenophile
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  • xoxoxenophile's Profile Photo

    Wonderful and varied collection of art!

    by xoxoxenophile Written Aug 15, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    National Portrait Gallery from Trafalgar Square

    The National Portrait Gallery is a great stop if you're visiting Trafalgar Square, and definitely a nice gallery in London! My favorite art pieces are those of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements, and they had quite a collection there! I got to see Renoir's "Umbrellas", Van Gogh's "A Wheatfield, with Cypresses" (as well as several others of his), some Cezannes, and some really pretty Monets (including a version of the Water Lily Pond). We were also able to see a sketch and a painting by DaVinci (which my traveling companion was more interested in), and some art from many different eras. If you're an art fan at all, this is a must-see while in London. The staff was very friendly and helpful, it's conveniently located right off Trafalgar Square, and best of all, it's free! :)

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  • Regina1965's Profile Photo

    A lovely visit to the National Portrait Gallery.

    by Regina1965 Updated Nov 24, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Portrait Gallery.
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    The National Portrait Gallery is in the same building as the National Gallery, but the entrance is by Charing Cross Road. The entrance isn´t flashy, as it were, and one could easily miss it. After entering one goes through the gallery shop. It seems like I, and some other people, entered by a side entrance. It was all a little confusing and I had no idea where to go. So I followed some people up an escalator, which took us to the highest floor.

    From there opened up a big gallery, I couldn´t believe it. I was coming from a 3 hour´s walk through the National Gallery and here was another big gallery. All of them were portraits. Some of them were current, of politicians and actors. In one section there were photographs and paintings of the Royal family. And in one section there were only photos of Marilyn Monroe on display.

    Then there were endless corridors and galleries with potraits of Dukes and Lords and aristocrats, kings and queens and politicians. It was in here that people were taking photos with the flash on, even though it was not allowed - and nobody said anything (I refer to my tip on the National gallery). And people were talking on their mobile phones and writing on their Ipad - even though it says so by the entrance that all of the above is forbidden. I am against forbidding people to take photos at museums, but that is just my opinion. There must be a reason why it is not allowed - but taking photos without flash should be ok.

    There was one hall with portraits of politicians - in one room I saw a painting which took my breath away - it was a big painting of the House of Commons in 1833. It covered the wall and each and every member in the House of Commons was painted on this big painting - the details were amazing. I just couldn´t tear myself away from this painting. Absolutely breath-taking.

    In another room there was a picture - a long picture - a recreation of the Last Supper. There all the disciples and Jesus were famous British actors. In the middle, as Jesus, was Robert Powell, whom I remember well as playing the best role of Jesus I have ever seen. Back then I bought the book with the photos from the film. He was awesome in it - and this long photograph refers to that film. The photo is both funny and well made, a must see.

    I would advice people from visiting both galleries at the same time - or at least stop for a bite to eat and sit down in between visits. As after a while one stops appreciating the art, it just gets to be too much. And the portraits are so worth one´s appreciation - they are just breath-taking.

    There is an entrance fee to some sections of the gallery, but most of them are free.

    Entrance fee: Free.

    Opening hours: 10:00-18:00 daily, but on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00-21:00.

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  • viddra's Profile Photo

    The home of famous portraits

    by viddra Written Aug 31, 2011
    The National Portrait Gallery

    The National Portrait Gallery houses the world's largest collection of portraits from the late Middle Ages to the present day. Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Ben Johnson, Sir Christopher Wren, Lord Nelson, Byron, Queen Vistoria and Prince Albert, Dickens, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen are just a few of these.

    The gallery was founded in 1856.

    Opening hours:
    Daily 10-18
    Thursdays and Fridays Late Shift, until 21 with music, talks, tours and workshops

    Free of charge!

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  • King_Golo's Profile Photo

    Somebody's watching you

    by King_Golo Written Apr 1, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ... in fact, not somebody but everybody! The National Portrait Gallery is full of portraits of more or less famous people, ranging from Princess Diana to Roald Dahl, from Dame Judy Dench (my favourite actress) to some almost forgotten King. While I'm normally not so much into museums, this one was a very interesting experience. I particularly liked the photography exhibition in which renowned photographers have portrayed people. When I was there, there was a temporary exhibition called "An Englishman in New York" which featured portraits of English men and women living in New York.
    You could easily spend a whole afternoon in the National Portrait Gallery, but it might be more enjoyable to pick one section at a time.

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  • Britannia2's Profile Photo

    National Portrait Gallery

    by Britannia2 Written Mar 21, 2011

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    National Portrait Gallery

    The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Explore over 160,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day.
    Something for everyone here whether you are old or young or from England or overseas.
    Admission is free although there is a charge for special exhibitions.

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  • leffe3's Profile Photo

    National Portrait Gallery

    by leffe3 Updated Nov 26, 2010

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    A much unheralded national gallery established in 1856 and the home of the biggest collection of portraits in the world – some 160,000 (although needless to say not all are on display at one given time).

    Featuring significant Brits, the collection spans time from Henry VIII to today. From oils, sketches, watercolours to photographs, artists from Holbein to Hockney, Cartier-Bresson to Avedon are all featured in a superb series of themed galleries (actors, politicans, industrialists, musicians etc). With free entry, if you're not interested in 19th century industrialists or politicians, miss them out - no pressure to see it all. And as you can see by the photo, it ain't all stuffy either...

    Also hosts some great international exhibitions (although a charge applies).

    Opening times: Sunday- Wednesday, 10am-6pm, Thursday & Friday, 10am-9pm
    closed 24-26 December
    Admission is free except for special exhibitions

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  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    National Portrait Gallery

    by spidermiss Updated Aug 30, 2010

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    National Portrait Gallery
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    I looked at the portraits in the following sections:

    1714-1790 Rebellion To Reform: Late 18th Century

    The portraits of those who were responsible in making Britain a world power in the fields of science and industry. As well as James Cook for his three worldwide voyages and Sir Han Sloane whose library formed The British Museum.

    1790-1837 Rebellion to Reform: Late 18th to early 19th Century
    The Regency in the Weldon Galleries

    I saw portraits by various artists of those whom I studied my last humanities course including King George IV (known as Prince Regent); William Wordsworth; George Gordon Byron; Sir Humphrey Davy; John Soane; Wiliam Wilberforce and many more! They were part of the Rebellion to Reform era including Romanticism.

    What I liked about the galleries is thare are computer points wheen you can look up more about the characters of the portraits and learn more of the contexts and history. I looked through the Regency Timeline - fascinating!

    The National Portrait Gallery is free to visit apart from special exhibitions although donations are always appreciated.

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  • gordonilla's Profile Photo

    Portraits of who exactly? And what did he do?

    by gordonilla Updated Jul 11, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Entrance

    The gallery displays over 1000 portraits of British men and women who have shaped world history to some degree - stretching from the middle ages through to the modern day.

    The Collection dates from 1505 through until the present day; in addition to the permanent colelction, there are regular special exhibitions held in the gallery.

    The gallery opens between 10am to 6pm, with late opening until 9pm taking place on Thursday and Friday.

    There are two eateries - The Portrait Restaurant located on the top floor serving a modern British menu and The Portrait Cafe in the basement serving sandwiches and refreshments.

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  • TheLongTone's Profile Photo

    The Great, the Good and the Ugly

    by TheLongTone Updated Jun 3, 2010

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    I'm very fond indeed of the National Portrait Gallery. As you'd expect, the criterion for hanging is who is depicted rather than the quality of the painting qua painting, and there are some very dodgy canvases on display. I am rather fond of bad paintings: they often tell you more about the aethetic of the time in which they were painted than masterpieces.

    But for me it's primary attraction are the galleries devoted to contemporary portraiture, which will lay to rest any doubt that figurative painting is alive and well and that a good painted portrait will generally whup the ass of any photograph. Not that all the contemporary efforts are particularly good considered as paintings: Lucien Freud aside, wha is about the Royal family that results in such stunningly mediocre canvases?

    The hang is constantly being rejigged, so there's usually something new to look at, and there are generally small temporary exhibitions which are almost invariably of note.

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  • SallyM's Profile Photo

    National Portrait Gallery

    by SallyM Updated Feb 27, 2010

    The National Portrait Gallery is 'hidden' slightly round the corner from the rather more imposing National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It would be a shame to miss it though, as it's very interesting and there is a very brief biography of each subject, so you know whom you are looking at.

    Admission is free, except for special exhibitions, which are to be found on the ground floor, along with the contemporary (post 1990) collections.

    The first floor covers the period from Victorians up to the late 20th century (subjects from the latter period include Paul McCartney and Margaret Thatcher).

    The second floor has Tudor, 17th century, 18th century and early 19th century portraits.

    Opening hours are 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily, with late opening until 9.00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

    The cafe in the basement offers a nice range of sandwiches, salads and cakes.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    The National Portrait Gallery

    by MM212 Updated Sep 21, 2009

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    Stanhope, one of the founders (Jan 07)
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    Founded in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery was the world's first portrait museum. In 1896, the museum moved to its current location, adjacent to the National Gallery building, off Trafalgar Square. The building itself, with Neoclassical touches, was designed by Ewan Christian who decorated its entrance with the busts of the three founders of the National Portrait Gallery. The museum contains an impressive collection of portraits, photographs and caricatures of historical British figures.

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  • uglyscot's Profile Photo

    The National Portrait gallery

    by uglyscot Written Apr 1, 2009

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    Open daily 10am-6pm
    Thursdays and Fridays 10am-9pm

    Admission free, but donations of £3 welcome. An audi guide costs £2.

    There are over 1000 portraits on display, featuring famous British men and women or people who have helped shape British history. The collection is arranged chronologically on the second floor, leading down to The Victorians and 20th century on the first Floor.The Ground floor has Britain since 1900, and special exhibitions and displays

    On the top floor is the Portrait Restaurant which is open during gallery hours, except Thursday and Friday when it closes at 10pm
    In the Basement can be found the bookshop, and Portrait cafe which is open during gallery houses but closes one hour earlier. Home-made sandwiches, fresh soup and refreshments can be purchased.

    Photography, mobile phones and eating and drinking are not permitted in the gallery.

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Often overlooked

    by toonsarah Updated Feb 17, 2009

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    National Portrait Gallery

    Often overlooked in favour of its larger and more famous neighbour, the National Gallery, this is nevertheless well worth a visit too. The name is rather a giveaway – this gallery focuses purely on portraiture. But if that sounds a bit limiting you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The collection is large and varied, and an excellent succession of special exhibitions each year brings further depth. Indeed it is these special exhibitions that often draw us here. We’re both keen on photography and this gallery often showcases the great portrait photographers. A recent example was the fantastic Annie Leibovitz retrospective, which presented her commercial portraits and photo-journalism alongside moving images of her family and friends from her own personal collection.

    The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Today it houses around 120,000 portraits of the most eminent persons in British history from Tudor times to the present day. As I tend to prefer more modern art I like especially the recent portraits, many of them of current “celebrities” – everyone from the Royal family to sports stars and politicians.

    The gallery is open daily 10.00 -18.00, and until 21:00 on Thursdays and Fridays. General admission is free, although a charge is made for major exhibitions. And even if you’re not interested in art you might consider visiting to have lunch or afternoon tea in the top-floor restaurant with its fantastic views of Nelson in Trafalgar Square and across Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye – one of London’s best kept secrets. The menu is modern British in style and isn’t cheap (don’t expect an old fashioned museum cafeteria) but I’ve heard the food is as good as the view although I’m yet to sample it myself. Oh, and do reserve a table if you want to eat here: 020 7312 2490.

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  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    A Treasure Trove of Art

    by TexasDave Written Dec 19, 2008
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    A visit to this museum is like getting an education in art. Started in the early 1800's with 3 dozen major paintings, it has grown to a gallery containing almost 70 different rooms. Highlights include many early Renaissance masterpieces, a few Da Vinci drawings, good examples of the "Dutch Masters", and don't overlook the mosaics you are walking on in the vestibules and staircase landings!

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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    National Portrait Gallery

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jun 3, 2008

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    This is a really fantastic museum as it recounts Britain’s development through portraits and also puts faces to those names of famous individuals of history.

    It had previously only displayed portraits of mainly those individuals already deceased but that changed in 1969 and now you can see portraits of individuals who are still alive as well.

    A great way to catch up on your history listen!

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