Course overview

Discover selected paintings, sculptures, works on paper and new media works from the National Portrait Gallery in London. Marking the relaunch in summer 2023 of this national collection after a three-year refurbishment, this course offers an opportunity to discover new or less well-known artworks; and to re-visit familiar portraits that epitomise aspects of British history. We explore ideas around the function of portraiture; and the range of approaches and styles that artists have employed through history to express individual and national identity. Artists featured include Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Joshua Reynolds, Angelica Kauffmann, Pauline Boty, Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake.

Course description

How does a portrait function? What can it reveal about the identity of an individual, social class or nation? These and other fascinating questions are explorde on this course, based on the collection of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London. Relaunched in 2023 after a major refurbishment of its spaces, the NPG has opened its doors to the public with new displays of its collection. We study a range of artworks spanning the 16th century to the present day, including paintings, sculptures, miniatures, prints, works on paper and new media. We investigate how NPG portraits have been collected, curated and displayed and how artworks resonate with the Collection’s core themes of individual and national identity. How have portraits of men and women shaped British history and culture? How does the understanding of portraiture enrich our engagement with history? How relevant are portraits to a contemporary worldin which we are all now ‘portraitists’ through our use of mobile phones? Featured works include Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger’s famous Ditchley Portrait of Elizabeth I; Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of Omai; Pauline Boty’s stained glass self-portrait; and the monumental female group portrait ‘Work in Progress’ by Pop Art pioneer Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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