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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Masterpieces of the National Portrait Gallery, London

National Portrait Gallery, London

Masterpieces of the National Portrait Gallery, London

The National Portrait Gallery houses a collection of portraits of historical importance and of more recent famous British people. It was the first portrait gallery in the world, established in 1856. Since then it has expanded include regional centres at Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire and Montacute House in Somerset.

The Masterpieces and Historical Exhibits of the National Portrait Gallery, London include:

  • “The Chandos Portrait of William Shakespeare” by John Taylor
    • “The Chandos Portrait of William Shakespeare” is believed to depict Shakespeare (1564–1616), because the engraved portrait of Shakespeare, on the title page of the first publication of his works, shows distinct similarities when compared to this painting. It has not been possible to determine with certainty who painted the portrait, nor whether it depicts Shakespeare.
  • Elizabeth I of England
    • This portrait of Elizabeth I of England in her coronation robes shows the Queen crowned, wearing the cloth of gold for her coronation and holding the symbols of her authority, the orb and sceptre. The date of her accession on 15th January 1559 was a day of celebration, with tournaments and the ringing of bells in parishes across England. Queen Mary I, previously wore the cloth of gold in this portrait, and the order to the Queen’s tailor for the remodelling of Queen Mary I’s fabric of gold coronation robes for Elizabeth survives. The painting reflects the written records, but it is not known why, and for whom, these portraits were created; at or just after the end of the reign in 1603.
  • King Edward VI of England
    • This portrait of King Edward VI of England shows Edward in a wide-legged pose that mimics his father Henry VIII famous pictures where he stands with his feet and hands similarly positioned. The portrait was started when Edward was a prince and completed after he became King with the addition of his coat of arms in the top left. Edward VI (1537 – 1553) was King of England and Ireland for six years, from 1547 until his death. He was crowned at the age of nine and was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. It was during Edward’s reign that Protestantism was established in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass and the imposition of compulsory services in English.
  • Catherine of Aragon
    • “Catherine of Aragon” depicts the first wife of King Henry VIII. The daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. Catherine subsequently married Arthur’s younger brother,  King Henry VIII, in 1509.

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

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“Museums should be places where you raise questions, not just show stuff.”
– William Thorsell

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Photo Credit: By Ham (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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