The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a little bit of an oddity in the art world of London. There are few other institutions so dedicated to one theme: most of them struggle to even settle on a prominent medium. That alone should make it worth a visit, but the gallery also has plenty else to offer.

The wide range of styles is one such attraction. It’s fascinating to see the variety with which the human face is expressed, ranging from simplistic blocks of colour to the utter depth and complexity of those that try to capture every minutae. Some are concerned with accuracy of form, others with representation of spirit but all have the same goal: to present an interesting portrayal of a particular figure.

The Queen of England is one such figure, and the different visualisations of her majesty reflect not just a plethora of art styles but something deeper, a swirling maelstrom of emotions and impressions that capture the nation’s attitude towards its ruler at any given time. From war to modern day inertia, the shifting perceptions portrayed in these portraits are fascinating to see.

The site also acts as something of a museum buff’s dream. Centred around a single concept, the entire place is beautifully themed to both create variety and maintain a coherent level of unity between all the pieces. It’s a hard task but one that the National Portrait Gallery manages with seeming ease, much to the admiration of many curators.

Address : St Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE

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