NPG - Copyist records

Scope and Content

This record series contains information about copyists from 1879-1970, including: a student signatures book 1879-1939, giving the signatures of students admitted on copying days; registers of students names and addresses from 1896-1938, giving their copying card number, name, address, and date of first visit; letters of application to copy portraits, 1881-1888 and 1833-1970; files of sample application forms; and a file relating to policy and procedure for copyists, 1870-1910.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Portrait Gallery began admitting students and amateur artists to make copies of the portraits in 1870, when the Gallery premisis at the South Kensington Museum opened. Until 1885 copying was permitted in pencil, watercolour, pastel etc, but no oil painting was allowed. After 1885 the use of easels and oil paints was allowed, but was regulated. When the Gallery opened its new premisis on St. Martins's Place in 1896 the practice of admitting student copyists began in earnest. They had to apply to the Gallery in writing for permission to copy, and were then admitted on Thursdays and Fridays only. The regulations relating to copying portraits in the Gallery changed over time, but copying is still permitted today. The number of copyists decreased throughout the twentieth century as colour reproductions became more readily available.

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.