Established in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery London is ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’. Founded on the principle that the paintings on display should reflect the status of the sitter, not the artist, the Gallery has collected the likenesses of famous people in British history. Today, the Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, and, as one of the country’s premier visitor attractions, draws more than 2 million visits each year.
The Primary Collection of paintings, sculptures, miniatures, drawings, prints and photographs contains some 11,100 portraits. Of these more than 4,150 are paintings, sculptures and miniatures, nearly 60% of which are regularly displayed at the National Portrait Gallery or elsewhere, including several houses managed by the National Trust. In addition, there are some 6,800 works on paper, shown on a rotating basis of about 300 items a year. The Gallery is always keen to find new ways to share the Collection through the National Programmes as well as through their website. Like other national museums, the Gallery is supported both by the government and increasingly by a large number of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations, as well as by the receipts from ticketed exhibitions, retail, catering, and events. The Gallery aims to bring history to life through its extensive display, exhibition, research, learning, outreach, pub- lishing and digital programmes. These allow the Gallery to stimulate debate and to address questions of biography, diversity and fame which lie at the heart of issues of identity and achievement. The Gallery strives to be the foremost centre for the study of and research into portraiture, as well as making its work and activities of interest to as wide a range of visitors as possible. For further information visit http://www.npg.org.uk.
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