NPG - Description of Portraits submitted for Inspection

Scope and Content

The volumes include information about both portraits acquired by the Gallery and also portraits declined.

A form was completed for each portrait inspected at Trustee meetings. Each form recorded the following information:
-details of Trustee meeting at which the portrait was discussed
-name of sitter
-name of artist
-description of the head (features, eyes, hair, complexion, position)
-description of figure (size, position, direction)
-position of limbs (right hand, left hand, feet & legs)
-description of costume (general, detailed, ornaments & insignia)
-general accessories (background, direction of light, material on which executed, mode of execution, frame, if noteworthy)
-dimensions of portrait
-locality (where portrait was viewed)
-sketch or photograph of portrait
-previous history of portrait
-general remarks on the condition of portrait

Between 1897-1910 the forms were completed in a comprehensive fashion. From 1910 onwards the level of detail varies considerably, with only cursory information being recorded for some portraits. From around this date also, the forms were supplemented by other material - for example letters and tracings - which were pasted into the volumes. From 1913 onwards, information about the Trustee Meeting at which portraits were discussed is not systematically recorded.

All of the volumes have been indexed by sitter. Index cards have been filed into the main portrait index accessible in the Public Study Room.

In addition, a small number of individual files relating to collections surveyed rather than to portraits submitted to Trustees' meetings have been catalogued as part of this sequence, alongside volumes of a similar date. Where no Trustees' meetings are referenced, the collection name has been given.

Administrative / Biographical History

The description of portraits submitted for inspection volumes were established in 1897 and continued until 1927. They were introduced by Director, Lionel Cust shortly after he took up post as a means of recording more detail about portraits offered to the Gallery, inspected and discussed at meetings of the Board of Trustees.

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.