ナショナル・ポートレイト・ギャラリーNational Portrait Gallery

© Colin Streater

© Colin Streater

In 1856 the first portrait gallery in the world opened its doors to the public with the purpose of commemorating famous British warriors and statesmen. By 1896 the gallery had been moved to its present location next to The National Gallery1856年、イギリスの有名な軍人や政治家を偲び、世界初のポートレイトのギャラリーが開館した。1896年にはナショナル・ギャラリー隣に場所を移し、作品そのものよりも歴史を重視するという創設者の思いを現在まで引き継いできた。近年は、ケンブリッジ公妃殿下、ウィリアム王子の妻キャサリンがナショナル・ポートレイト・ギャラリーのパトロンとなり、2011年には180万人以上の来場者を迎えている。





National Portrait Gallery
住所:St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
TEL:+44 (0) 20 7306 0055

Text: Michael Sullivan
Translation: Sayaka Ito
and since then it has continued to carry out the wishes of the original founders of being more about history then art itself. More recently the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William’s wife Catherine, became a Patron of the National Portrait Gallery and in 2011 the gallery welcomed over 1.8 million visitors through its doors.

The gallery itself is in ideal location being near several major tube stations, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, while inside it has plenty of space over three floors as well as every year more than ten special displays and six major exhibitions. After going through the main entrance it is possible to buy tickets for exhibitions, make a donation and buy a floor plan. On the ground floor one can find contemporary portraits including exhibition rooms. On this floor it is possible to see significant British people of the last century including actors, artists, royalty, etc, and includes photos, oil paintings and even sketches.

The second floor is a favourite for many people including myself and truly does represent a walk through history via the medium of art. Beginning with the early Tudors (1485 onwards) every major period in British history is showcased right through the time of Shakespeare, the British civil war and the rise of a Britain as a superpower. Every portrait has a plaque explaining who painted the picture and who is in the picture along with a bit of historical context which makes for fascinating reading. It is equally interesting to closely examine the background and foreground of each portrait for consideration of what the artist, as well as the sitter, wanted to communicate such as identification with the arts, engineering, war, etc.

It is truly an amazing experience to be able to see the faces of the men and women who have had such a huge impact on British history and culture from the portraits of literary giants like William Shakespeare and John Keats to famous statesmen such as former British Prime Minister William Pitt. It is a true reminder that beyond the history books these men and women had lived and died many years ago and that just like a photo helps us capture moments in history as well as memories today, that also portraits have captured moments in time in Britain’s rich cultural history.

The website for the National Portrait Gallery is a marvel in itself as it provides access to the thousands of portraits not hanging on the walls of the gallery as well as detailed floor plans and exhibition information. The gallery itself provides for visitors very nicely with its own cloakroom, bookshop, gift shop, restaurant and bar and also a café. Furthermore the gallery organises events, workshops and group visits to further enhance every visitor’s experience.

National Portrait Gallery
Address: St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
Opening Hours: 10:00–18:00 (Thursday and Friday till 21:00)
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7306 0055
Free admission

Text: Michael Sullivan

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