NPG - National Portrait Survey Returns

Scope and Content

This series represents a small sequence of surveys of portraits held in external collections. Participants have used the forms designed and circulated for the National Survey, some of which have been bound whilst others remain loose. This series has been assembled from records which, in the intervening years, had been filed in various locations in the archive and library's collections. Some returns relate to the period of Lionel Cust's directorship of the Gallery (1895-1909), but some postdate his tenure and others are undated.

Returns have been written on the standard form designed by Scharf and Cust, with sub-sections into which participants were prompted to record the collection name, details of the sitter and artist, descriptions of head, figure, costume and accessories, position of limbs, portrait dimensions, inscriptions, previous history of the work and general remarks on the condition of the portrait. The standard form also requested and left space for a sketch or photograph of each portrait described. In some instances therefore images have been included.

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Survey of Portraits was a scheme originally thought of by the Gallery's first Director Sir George Scharf, and then taken over by Lionel Cust, his successor, who formed a special committee of the Congress of Archaeological Societies to promote the formation of a National Catalogue of Portraits. Local branches of the Congress of Archaeological Societies along with other interested individuals were asked to complete forms designed by Scharf and Cust, listing information about portraits in their local area, and return them to the secretary of the society for compilation into a catalogue.

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.

Related Material

For further information on the inception of the scheme see NPG8/2/1. A further completed volume of descriptions of portraits is also located in the Papers of Lionel Cust, see NPG8/2/2.