The ability to draw and paint is a talent I have always wished I had, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating those that have been blessed with this skill. I took a trip to the National Portrait Gallery which houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. With 195,000 portraits you can easily get lost in the art. Walking into this gallery seems like a regular affair; you are met with a friendly staff member and see a corridor leading to a reception desk and a shop. But this mundane entrance does not compare to the stunning art contained within the walls.
Taking the stairs to the first floor leads you to the contemporary portraits where you are greeted by a remarkable portrait of Malala Yousafzai. Close inspection of this portrait reveals the Arabic inscription on her face, to serve as a reminder of her heritage. This portrait really blew me away as it was very simple but very effective.The contemporary portraits continue on the floor above with a mix of paintings and photographs to display some contemporary figures, ranging from musicians such as Ed Sheeran and Sade to politicians such as Margaret Thatcher.
The Victorian and 20th Century portrait room on the floor above is breath-taking with dimmed lights and an eerie feel, almost like a haunted house. Many of the portraits are coupled with statues to compensate for the lack of photography at that time. The purple walls and gold frames of the portraits exude royalty down the central corridor. The endless side rooms reveal more and more about the history of the United Kingdom and feature prominent figures including Winston Churchill, the Brontë sisters and Christabel Pankhurst. The portraits range from realistic photo like paintings to more abstract depictions, displaying the creativity of the portraitists at the time. The floor above reveals the mysteries of the 17th and 18th century, with each room dedicated to a different aspect. Special focus is placed on science, the arts and Britain becoming a world power to represent the nation at this point in history. This section is much brighter than the Victorian and 20th Century section which really allows you to appreciate not only the art but also the surroundings. I am consistently stunned by the frames and the walls of each room. The portraits are very realistic, and each room feels like a transformation into a new world.
A trip to the Tudor times is offered on the same floor, displaying figures we are all familiar with from Primary School History lessons. The art ranges from flat portraits to paintings with more dimension, displaying the development of art during this time.
I highly recommend visiting this gallery, especially if you’re someone that loves art and portraits.