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The gallery's first ever exhibition of old master European portrait drawings explores the creative encounter that takes place between artists and sitters.

Part of the gallery's ongoing investigation into the practice and process of portrait making, the exhibition features 50 drawings that capture a moment of connection between an artist and their sitter.

The impressive display includes works by Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rubens and Rembrandt and Holbein whose subjects range from an emperor's chaplain to a nurse, a king's clerk to a shoemaker. These artists were inspired to move away from the use of medieval pattern-books as source materials, and instead draw directly from life. The resulting portraits are both captivating and intimate.

Included are many rarely-seen works which, owing to their sensitivity to light, cannot be put on regular display. Shown alongside the portraits are examples of the drawing tools and media that were used to create them – such as metalpoint and coloured chalks.

Don't miss

The exhibition provides a chance to see Albrecht Dürer's preparatory drawing for a lost portrait of Henry Parker, Lord Morley, who was sent to Nuremberg as an ambassador to King Henry VIII.

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin's Place, London, Greater London, WC2H 0HE

020 7306 0055


Opening times

Saturday - Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday: 10am – 9pm
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Free to all

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