NPG - Correspondence received by the Gallery, 1910-1970

Scope and Content

Currently correspondence received by the Gallery has been catalogued for the years spanning 1910 to 1920. The content of correspondence is varied and includes:

-correspondence marked up with internal codes equating to meeting numbers, indicating these may have been flagged up for consideration by the Board of Trustees, generally offers of portraits made to the Gallery
-correspondence relating to portraits with named sitter and/or artist attributions
-correspondence to the Director (Charles Holmes or James Milner) from Trustees of the Gallery
-correspondence between the Director, Assistant Keeper and other clerical staff relating to the administration of the Gallery
-correspondence from contractors concerning restoration or framing of works
-correspondence from individuals seeking permission to copy works from the Gallery's Collection
-correspondence from individuals seeking copyists
-correspondence from colleagues at other museums and galleries
-correspondence from the individuals and institutions of a varied nature including Gallery staff, government departments, firms supplying the Gallery and art societies and publications
Further descriptions of correspondence will be published over time.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Correspondence received by the Gallery spans 1910 to 1970, it is probable that the appointment of Charles Holmes as NPG Director in 1909 instigated the approach to arrange correspondence in this manner. Between 1910-1936 correspondence was arranged alphabetically by year, with letters being filed according to the authors surname or the name of a company. From 1937-1969 correspondence has been arranged by year but subdivided into General and Portrait sequences and within these arranged alphabetically by correspondent in the general sequence and sitter in the portrait sequence.

Prior to 1910 correspondence received was organised according to the NPG Trustee meeting number the subject matter of the correspondence related to. At an unknown date any correspondence relating to the acquisition of portraits was removed from the Correspondence Received sequence and placed on the applicable Registered Packets. As part of the cataloguing project where it has been identified correspondence relates solely to the acquisition of Primary or Reference Collection portraits it has been removed from the sequence and placed in the relevant Registered Packet.

The correspondence has historically been known as 'General Correspondence' however it is unknown who coined this description and it was decided that 'Correspondence Received by the Gallery' was a better descriptive title of contents. It may be possible to find copies of replies to some of the correspondence from Gallery staff in the letter books series of records (currently uncatalogued) which contain copies of correspondence sent by the Gallery between the years 1857-1930.

From 1970 portrait correspondence has been filed in Notes files whilst ephemeral general correspondence is not retained [see NPG49 Notes on Sitters and NPG50 Notes on Artists]. Correspondence relating to individual portraits in the Primary Collection is held in Registered Packets [see NPG46 and NPG60].

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Other Finding Aids

The complete catalogue for this archive can be searched via the NPG Archive Catalogue .

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.