National Portrait Gallery's iconic Tudor and Bloomsbury portraits to go on tour
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National Portrait Gallery's iconic Tudor and Bloomsbury portraits to go on tour
The Memoir Club by Vanessa Bell, circa 1943, © estate of Vanessa Bell.

LONDON.- The National Portrait Gallery, London is partnering with four UK Galleries to stage two major new exhibitions featuring some of the best-loved works from the Gallery's Collection. The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics, will open at The Holburne Museum in Bath in January 2022, with twenty-five of the Gallery's most famous Tudor portraits. This will be followed by an expanded exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in May 2022, featuring sixty-eight works. It is the first time that such a significant number of the Gallery's renowned Tudor portraits have been lent for exhibition.

Also on loan together for the first time, will be fifty-eight of the Gallery's portraits of the Bloomsbury Group and their closest associates in Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy, opening at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield in November 2021, before traveling to York Art Gallery in March 2022.

The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics presents the five Tudor monarchs, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, some of the most familiar figures from English history and instantly recognisable in the portraits that have preserved their likenesses for five hundred years. The dynasty’s reign over sixteenth-century England, from 1485 to 1603, encompassed the tumultuous years of the Reformation; a literary renaissance; conflict with Scotland, France and Spain and conquest and colonisation in Ireland and America.

The cast of characters will be introduced in the exhibition at The Holburne Museum in Bath, encompassing some of the most famous portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection. The exhibition will then be expanded in the larger exhibition space at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, which will feature around one hundred objects. This includes sixty-eight works from the National Portrait Gallery, a selection of additional loans, and paintings from the Walker Art Gallery's collection.

Portraits on display will include the Tudor monarchs, alongside their counsellors and courtiers, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Robert Dudley, William Cecil and Francis Walsingham. Some of the works included in the exhibition have never been shown outside of London, including a portrait of Jane Seymour, after Hans Holbein the Younger and the highly unusual Sir Henry Unton portrait.

Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love and Legacy explores the lives and works of an extraordinary group of writers, artists and thinkers, known as the Bloomsbury Group. Key figures include the great writer and pioneer of feminist thought Virginia Woolf, her sister the painter Vanessa Bell, and the circle of friends that gathered around these young women and became well-known as the ‘Bloomsbury Group’, named after the area of London where they lived in the first decades of the twentieth-century.

Primarily drawn from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection and enhanced with key works from Sheffield Museums and York Museums Trust, this exhibition includes portraits of those most intimately associated with the Bloomsbury Group, but also fascinating friends and colleagues who were not central to the original group. The works include paintings, sculpture, drawings and photographs. Most of these representations are informal and intimate and were often made as tokens of friendship and sometimes of love – when displayed together they bring to life an intensely creative group of people who were passionate about their work and about each other. The exhibition will also include new works by the artist Sahara Longe specially commissioned by York Museums Trust and Sheffield Museums to respond to the exhibition and the work of Bloomsbury artists.

The National Portrait Gallery is continuing to share its Collection across the UK through a nationwide programme of activities and partnerships while the building in St Martin's Place is closed for major redevelopment works. In addition to these new major exhibitions, the Gallery's transformational Inspiring People project includes new partnerships with museums, local community groups and schools, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund.

Exhibitions and displays opening in the coming months include:

• Two new exhibitions created in partnership with Brent Museum and Archives. People Powered: From the ground up, 6 Sept – 3 Dec 2021, exploring portraits and stories of people with connections to Wembley Stadium, and Icons of Colour: Portraits of Brent’s Change Makers, 13 Dec 2021 – 20 Feb 2022, which will see the first public display of the Gallery’s recently commissioned portrait of Zadie Smith by Toyin Ojih Odutola.

• Collaborative displays at newly opened museums and galleries as part of the Gallery’s National Skills Sharing Partnership. Works from the Gallery’s Collection will be on show at The Box, Plymouth in late September 2021 and Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury in February 2022.

• Creative Connections Coventry, a collaborative project between an artist and young people exploring the portraits and stories of inspirational figures from their neighbourhood, culminating in the creation of new artwork and new acquisitions for the National Portrait Gallery Collection, to be exhibited in the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry from March 2022.

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