The National Portrait Gallery has been high on my list of places to visit in London for a while. I’ll admit that I’m not highly cultured so I’m afraid you won’t find an artist’s critique here. However, I am interested in the history of the world and how creative talent has captured moments, cultures and people over time, so here’s my view of why it’s worth paying a visit.
The gallery is part of the iconic building which sits on Trafalgar Square and also houses The National Gallery, apart from some of the exhibitions it’s free to enter. The main attraction for me was the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition which showcases the Prize’s entries and winners. It has rated well in reviews, been recommended personally and as someone more interested in photographs than paintings it got my attention. At just £2 to enter I think it’s worth finding the change and having a look (and soon as it closes on 12 February 2012).
The opening portrait of the exhibition, English footballer Peter Crouch, was a surprise as he’s not the first person to come to mind as an artist’s subject but it’s quite an impressive image. Overall it’s a fascinating exhibition as it seems to bring together so many ages, ethnicities and cultures into one room. My favourite portrait ‘Erika E born in 1910’ is an honest image of a 100 year old lady, still healthy and very glamorous, I wouldn’t mind looking like this on my 100th birthday! If you’ve seen this exhibition or plan to see it before it closes I’d be interested to hear what your favourite portrait was so please comment below.
As for the rest of the gallery, it is definitely an interesting timeline of portraits from the Tudors to the modern day, mixing paintings, photography and artefacts. I spent more time looking around the contemporary portraits on the ground floor as they’re more relatable to me but it’s worth taking a look round the rest of the gallery, particularly if you’re in London to get a taste of British history, but also if you want to see how capturing people’s portraits has changed over time.
For more information and a summary of what’s on offer now and in the next few months check out the Gallery’s website. There’ll be more reviews over the next few weeks so for more of my insights follow the site or twitter feed @This_City_Life.