Icons and Identities

Famous Faces from the National Portrait Gallery Collection



ISBN: 9781855147188 Category:

Rab MacGibbon


The National Portrait Gallery holds the world’s most extensive collection of portraits: a museum of people, a gallery of stories and ideas, and a home of artistic masterpieces. It celebrates the power and creativity of individuals – artists as well as their sitters.

Icons and Identities draws upon the outstanding collections of the National Portrait Gallery to investigate and celebrate the variety and complexity of the genre. It draws together ‘icons’ – the most famous faces from British history from Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Isaac Newton to Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles – alongside less well-known sitters that provide a fascinating insight into the representation of identity in portraits. It also includes some intriguing surprises to reflect the diversity of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and to introduce audiences around the world to exceptional portraits of many kinds.

This publication will show how artists, working across a range of media including painting, photography and multimedia, have revealed the visually stimulating and intellectually vibrant tradition of portrait making. It is structured around a series of key timeless themes and each section will include a selection of works from a range of periods, allowing audiences to consider how artists and sitters have engaged with themes of power, fame, the self, innovation, identity, memory and loss.

Additional information

Weight 854 g
Dimensions 20.4 x 25.4 cm
Publisher name National Portrait Gallery Publications
Publication date 10 June 2021
Number of pages 136
Format Hardback
Dimensions 20.4 x 25.4 cm
Weight 854 g


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Rab MacGibbon is Curator, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Collections, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. He is a contributor to Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures from Hilliard to Oliver (2019) and The Lost Prince: The Life & Death of Henry Stuart (2012).