Must-See Portrait Exhibitions Across the UK in 2024: From Renaissance to Contemporary

19 Jun 2024

by ArtRabbit

This summer, galleries and museums across the UK will bring historical portraits into public view and present new works that shed new light on past lives.

With a major focus on portraiture, all of the paintings in these exhibitions capture society and the lives of people at the time of their making. Within them, historic works from the Renaissance to the 20th century sit alongside contemporary paintings, and famed paintings share the walls with lesser-known works. These exhibitions display the painter’s continual ability to represent the people, culture, and sentiment of an age.

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens, National Portrait Gallery

The first exhibition of historical portraiture since the National Portrait Gallery reopened last June, ‘Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens’ presents a study of the lives and afterlives of the six women who married Henry VIII. From sixteenth-century paintings and miniatures by Hans Holbein the Younger to contemporary photography, costume and film, the exhibition will chronicle the representation of Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr throughout history and popular culture in the centuries since they lived.

Admission: 25 and under - £5 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Pay What You Wish - from £1 at selected times. Seniors Mondays - 50% off the Adult price for visitors over 60 every Monday. Standard Ticket: £21.

Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520–1920, Tate Britain

Spanning 400 years, this exhibition follows women on their journeys to becoming professional artists. From Tudor times to the First World War, artists such as Mary Beale, Angelica Kauffman, Elizabeth Butler, and Laura Knight paved a new artistic path for generations of women. They challenged what it meant to be a working woman of the time by going against society’s expectations – having commercial careers as artists and taking part in public exhibitions.

Admission: Standard Ticket £20. Concessions start from £5.

Art of the Selfie, National Museum Cardiff

This timely exhibition at Amgueddfa Cymru’s National Museum Cardiff examines how artists throughout time, from Rembrandt and Van Gogh to Bedwyr Williams and Anya Paintsil, see and represent themselves. A highlight of the exhibition is Van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist (1887), a special inclusion on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Admission: Pay What You Can (suggested £5).

Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation, Royal West of England Academy

After opening in Edinburgh and touring to London, the exhibition ‘Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation’ is coming to Bristol for the first time this summer at the RWA. This moving exhibition honours the accomplishments and legacy of the Windrush Generation, the name given to the men and women who arrived in Britain on the HMT Empire Windrush in June 1948, and the generations that followed. On display are ten portraits of remarkable Caribbean-British individuals by ten leading artists, including Sonia Boyce MBE and Amy Sherald.

Admission: Tickets from free to £9.90.

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