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national portrait galleries

national portrait galleries. The English National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 at the urging of the 5th earl of Stanhope, supported among others by Prince Albert. The present building, opened in 1896 in London, was largely funded by a single benefactor, W. H. Alexander. The collection contains portraits of celebrated Britons in every medium including photography. In fulfilling the aim of the gallery to illustrate the nation's history, selections are made on the importance of the sitter rather than the quality of the artist, so there is great variation in the works. The National Trust properties of Montacute in Somerset and Beningbrough in Yorkshire also house a number of portraits from the NPG.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh was founded in 1882 with endowments from the owner of the Scotsman newspaper, J. R. Findlay. The building on Queen Street houses portraits of eminent Scots, antiquities, and the national photography collection. A permanent exhibition portrays the history of the royal house of Stewart in portrait and artefact and includes a pastel of Prince Charles Edward (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) by de la Tour acquired in 1994 with help from the National Art Collections Fund. Since 1983, with a painting of QueenElizabeth, the queen mother, the gallery has commissioned works direct.

June Cochrane

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