Shakespeare to Winehouse: Icons from the National Portrait Gallery London

Date 12.03.2022 - 17.07.2022
Location The National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace ACT 2600


The National Portrait Gallery London holds the world’s most extensive collection of portraits; it is a museum of people, a gallery of stories and ideas, a home of artistic treasures. It celebrates the power and creativity of individuals – artists as well as their sitters. As the world’s first national portrait gallery, it was born out of the importance of portraiture in British artistic tradition.

Australians will be offered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to share some of the most remarkable works in the NPG London collection as it is closed due to a significant refurbishment currently being undertaken. These are works that never leave the Gallery because quite simply they are the iconic works of that collection and are beloved by visitors from around the world.

This opportunity will be realised through Shakespeare to Winehouse, with eighty major works – some travelling outside the UK for the first time ever – to tour to Canberra in an exciting cultural collaboration.

This bold and broad-ranging exhibition will contain some of the most famous images of the Western artistic tradition. It includes portraits of sitters as diverse as William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Queen Elizabeth (I and II), Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, TS Eliot, Beatrix Potter, Ed Sheeran, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and Amy Winehouse; and works by some of the most talented artists of the past five centuries: from Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough to David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Andy Warhol.

The National Portrait Gallery is the youngest of Australia’s national cultural institutions, and one of only a handful of portrait galleries in the world; there are others in London, Washington, Copenhagen and Edinburgh. With a collection of over three thousand portraits of remarkable Australians, housed in a purpose-built, award-winning building in the heart of Canberra’s cultural precinct, the National Portrait Gallery reflects the evolving face of the nation, with all its diversity, history, heart and complexity. It is the place the people of Australia come to understand who we are, both as individuals and as a national collective.

Along with its burgeoning collection, the National Portrait Gallery is also the destination for major touring exhibitions of international portraiture. In 2022, the Gallery will host Shakespeare to Winehouse: Icons from the National Portrait Gallery,  London. We anticipate this high-profile international exhibition will attract over 50,000 visitors.

The National Portrait Gallery aspires to reflect the face of Australia. We are the place where the national story unfolds with clarity, without complacency or self-satisfaction. We use portraiture to tell Australian stories and to increase understanding and appreciation of Australian people –their identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.