600 years of portraiture on show at the National Portrait Gallery in 2024

National Portrait gallery exhibitions 2024
Anne Boleyn, 1999 - from a series of photographs of waxwork figures of Henry VIII and his wives, by Hiroshi Sugimoto (Image credit: © Hiroshi Sugimoto)

The National Portrait Gallery in London, England, is one of the most respected art institutions in the world, showcasing portraits across all artistic mediums. 

The newly announced exhibitions scheduled throughout 2024 will span 6 centuries of portraiture, from the Tudor period to the present day. Included are displays exploring the lives of Henry VIII's wives, while the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize will return for its 17th year. 

Sadness (Ellen Terry) by Julia Margaret Cameron (1864) Albumen silver print (Image credit: © Julia Margaret Cameron. Woodman Family Foundation / DACS, London.)

Portraiture can be showcased across many different mediums, and some of the best photography portraits will be on show in 2024. One of the most anticipated is Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In, which will be on display in Spring 2024. 

"This innovative exhibition will juxtapose the lives and work of two of the most important and influential practitioners in the history of photography," says the National Portrait Gallery. 

"Showcasing more than 150 rare vintage prints, the exhibition will span the entire career of Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron – who worked 100 years apart – and include examples of both their best-known and less familiar work". 

Both these photographers have the ability, through their images, to create a dream-like connection with the viewer, through storytelling and symbolism. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog featuring essays and images. 

Kisha and LaDarayon (Image credit: Gilleam Trapenberg)

Another exhibition set to attract those passionate about contemporary photography is the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize, returning for its latest annual installment. The winners of the prize categories were recently revealed, and you can see them covered in our announcement story. Featuring photographs from all over the world, the portraits on display show the famous and the everyday side-by-side in the same space. 

"The competition celebrates a diverse range of images and tells the fascinating stories behind the creation of works, from formal commissioned portraits to more spontaneous and intimate moments capturing friends and family," says the National Portrait Gallery.

Other photographic works are on show within the other exhibitions, such as the legendary photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto's portrait of Anne Boleyn in the Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens. 

Ncuti Gatwa by Jonangelo Molinari  (Image credit: © Jonangelo Molinari)

The National Portrait Gallery reopened earlier this year after the largest redevelopment in its history.

"After a highly successful first season following our reopening, I am delighted to be presenting another year of innovative and engaging exhibitions," beams director, Dr Nicholas Cullinan.

"2024's program will span from Tudor Queens to the greatest living artists, with something for everyone to enjoy. I would like to thank our sponsors for all their support in helping us deliver such an innovative and energetic program of exhibitions."

I am super excited to see the work on display at the National Portrait Gallery next year! Here is the full rundown of the year:

2024 Schedule

The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure
February 22 – May 19 2024

Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In  
March 21 – June 16 2024

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens 
June 20 – September 8 2024

Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award 
July 11 – October 27 2024

Francis Bacon Portraits 
October 10 2024 – January 19 2025 

Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize  
November 14 2024 – February 23 2025

Take a look at the best lenses for portraits, the best cameras for portraits and the best books on portrait photography.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.