National Portrait Gallery Tour

National Portrait Gallery – the place to put a face to a name

Tucked away behind the National Gallery in St Martin’s Place, the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is a compact and intimate space displaying more than four hundred years of British portrait painting, from the 16th century right through to the present day.

The first and possibly oldest portrait is of…

  • William Shakespeare – believed to be the only likeness made during the great playwright’s lifetime
  • It was the gallery’s first acquisition when the NPG was opened in 1856 to commemorate ‘those persons who are most honourably commemorated in British history as warriors or as statesmen, or in the arts, in literature or in science’

The collection is organised chronologically starting with:

  • An extensive collection of 16th-century Tudor portraits – see England’s most famous king, Henry VIII, along with two men who dramatically gained then lost power under him, Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell

From the 17th and 18th centuries:

  • Charles I – the only English king to be beheaded and his Puritan successor; Oliver Cromwell
  • George III – rather harshly known as ‘the King who lost America’ and whose madness has been the subject of numerous stage and screen productions

From the 19th century:

  • Famous literary family, the Brontes, whose portrait still bears the folds made when it was discovered on top of a wardrobe
  • A touching sketch of novelist Jane Austen done by her sister
  • A statue of Queen Victoria and husband Prince Albert in Anglo-Saxon dress

The ground floor is dedicated to modern personalities, using a variety of media. Among the actors, pop stars, fashion icons and artists, don’t miss:

  • Self by Mark Quinn – a frozen, refrigerated sculpture of the artist’s head, made from 4.5 litres of his own blood and recast every five years!
  • One of the most recent portraits is of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who is patron of the gallery

Book a private tour with a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide and see this fascinating array of characters brought to life. When your tour is over, you can visit the gallery’s cafe or restaurant, which has amazing roof-top views over Central London.

Simply input your tour request details in the form below. When you have finished, hit the Green ‘Submit to Match’ button. Your request will be instantly emailed to three highly qualified and enthusiastic London Blue Badge Tourist Guides, matching your criteria. They will then email you confirming availability, pricing and suggestions for the tour itself. So let one of our 500+ Blue Badge Tourist Guides make your stay in London a special one.

Other pages for consideration:

London Canary Wharf & Docklands Tour