The National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 by the historian Philip Stanhope, who campaigned for "a gallery of original portraits [that] commemorated British history".
Its founding principle was that the paintings on display would reflect the status of the sitter, not the artist. As a result, the primary collection now consists of 10,000 portraits, and over 250,000 archived images of everyone from statesmen to showbiz stars and media barons.
The collection represents Britain from the late 14th century to the present day and is arranged thematically to include the Tudors, politicians and pop stars, Victorian Statesmen and the Civil War. The Ondaajte Wing features the only surviving portrait of Shakespeare taken from life and the famous Hans Holbein cartoon of Henry VIII.
The Portrait Restaurant offers superb views of London.