At the National Portrait Gallery, a Collection that is Unique in All the World
Location: National Portrait Gallery
Address: St. Martin's Pl, Charing Cross, London WC2H 0HE
In the light of a lantern, a young woman traces the profile of her lover on the wall, just before he is about to leave. His father, a potter in Corinth, works these lines into his clay. According to an ancient and fortunate legend, this is the origin of art itself. For thousands of years, before the invention of photography, the painted, sculpted and drawn portrait represented the only means for making distant or deceased people, somehow, become present. Over time, it acquired new functions, highlighting power and prestige, taste and virtue, beauty and emotion. In London, a museum celebrates the art of the portrait with an incredible collection that spans centuries. The National Portrait Gallery is a treasure trove that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world, with eleven-thousand paintings, drawings, sculptures and miniatures, as well as a section dedicated to photography that gathers together over 250.000 images. It is possible to admire masterpieces from Joshua Reynolds, William Hogarts and Andy Warhol, iconic portraits of characters such as Shakespeare and Queen Victoria, photos by masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Helmuth Newton, right up to contemporary artist David LaChapelle - a truly remarkable repertoire of faces and characters that tell the very story of Western Civilisation.
On the occasion of the centenary of the acquisition by the National Gallery of Van Gogh's masterpieces - the Sunflowers and the Chair both from 1888 - the London Museum with a major exhibition investigates the artist's fascinating practice of transforming the places he encountered into spaces idealized in his art.
The painting The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula - the last work by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - arrives in London for the first time in 20 years in an exhibition organized at the National Gallery on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations of the English museum.