Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The National Galleries of Scotland looks after one of the world's finest collections of Western art ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. These holdings include the National Collection of Scottish art which we are proud to display in an international context.
We care for, research and develop these collections and we aim to share these works of art with as wide a public as possible. Every year we welcome over a million visitors from Scotland and the rest of the world to our various Galleries sited in Edinburgh.
We have active programmes of education, outreach and special exhibitions and where possible we work with partners across Scotland to maximise the impact of our activities.
Open daily, 10am-5pm. Thursdays until 7pm.
Reformation to Revolution
- 1 December 2011 — 31 December 2016 *on now
By the close of the seventeenth century the monarchy, church and parliament had all changed drastically.
These complex changes had important cultural consequences. With religious painting no longer acceptable, there was an increase in demand for secular art forms, portraiture in particular. This coincided with a growing merchant and professional class beginning to commission works of art to display their increased ambition and economic strength.
Painted portraits were expensive, and those who acquired them came from the wealthiest levels of society, both old and new. These men and women used portraits to assert ideas of social status as well as to record an individual likeness. Their images played a significant role in the struggles for power, identity and nationhood during this period.
- Any age
Document Scotland | The Ties That Bind
- 26 September 2015 — 24 April 2016 *on now
Document Scotland is a photographic collective comprising of Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard and Stephen McLaren — four Scots-born photographers, each exponents of documentary photography.
The exhibition takes place one year after the Scottish Referendum. It will feature 50-75 photographs of, and about, Scotland and its people created by this photography group. Their work has been published in various international magazines and newspapers, in addition to featuring in exhibitions around the UK. They are passionate about documentary photography and are committed to photographing Scotland at this pivotal moment in history.
While the work touches on the political landscape around the Referendum, the images do not affirm any one position, but seek to portray a multiplicity of views that portray the complex challenges and subtle nuances surrounding the larger debate.
- Family friendly
BP Portrait Award 2015
- 10 October 2015 — 28 February 2016 *on now
The BP Portrait Award showcases the very best in contemporary portrait painting from around the world.
For 34 years, of which the last 26 have been sponsored by BP, the exhibition has presented outstanding and innovative new work in a variety of styles and approaches, and it continues to be a highlight of the annual art calendar at all its venues.
This is the sixth time that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has hosted the Award.
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015
- 18 June — 2 October 2016
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is the leading competition to celebrate and promote the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world.
The selected images explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations. Alongside informal images of friends and family, this year’s exhibition also features revealing portraits of famous faces, including actor Benedict Cumberbatch and the President of the United States Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Also included as part of the new In Focus display within the exhibition is recent work by the award-winning South African photographer Pieter Hugo. The In Focus feature is an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, which is exhibited alongside the photographs selected for the competition.
- Family friendly
Facing the World | Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei
- 16 July — 16 October 2016
The self-portrait occupies a core place in the history of European art. Ever since the Renaissance, and in some cases even earlier, artists have self-consciously created images of themselves. This exhibition presents an exciting selection of portraits, in various media spanning six centuries, from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei’s instagram posts. The topic is more relevant than ever, as social media thrives on self-portraits and the continual presentation of self.
This exhibition reflects the early self-assurance of the Renaissance artist, the magnificent spectacle of the self in the Baroque, the sentimental subjectivity in Romantic self-portraiture, the unsparing view of the self in modern art, and finally the obsessive questioning of the self in the era of photography and video.
The exhibits (around 139 in total) will range in date from the sixteenth century to the present day. Artists represented include: Simon Vouet, Rembrandt, Hyacinthe Rigaud, David Wilkie, David Octavius Hill, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, Oskar Kokoschka, Andy Warhol, Marina Abramovich, Tracey Emin, John Coplans, Ken Currie and Alison Watt.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street
0131 332 2266
0131 343 3250