Icons from the National Portrait Gallery

The last of the exhibitions I already visited late September. This exhibition is on display at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden.

The exhibition

From 11 September 2021 to January 9 2022 the outstanding collection of portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, London, will be on view in Leeuwarden. The exhibition Icons: Masterpieces from the National Portrait Gallery will include paintings, photographs, sculptures, prints and drawings by outstanding artists worldwide: from Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck to Andy Warhol and Marlene Dumas. Among those portrayed are world-famous icons, from Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare to Audrey Hepburn, David Beckham and Malala Yousafzai. With almost 100 masterpieces, Icons explores the complex and fascinating genre of portraiture. Thanks to a large renovation of the National Portrait Gallery, this unmatched collection can be seen just this once in the Netherlands.

The book

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication in Dutch (176 pages) and English (144 pages). The Dutch edition contains four additional works from the National Portrait Gallery and more than ten portraits from the collection of the Fries Museum. The price of both books is € 27,50. The books are for sale from 11 September via friesmuseum.nl/webshop, in the museum shop of the Fries Museum, via Waanders Publishers or at the local bookshop.

My opinion

The exhibition was a real surprise and well worth coming to Leeuwarden for. Of course I had read that the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I of England was on display, but I didn’t have high hopes for more royal portraits. How wrong I was! Queen Elizabeth II, Nell Gwyn (mistress of King Charles II), Diana Princess of Wales, the King and Queen of Bohemia (Winter King & Winter Queen), King James II and Anne Hyde, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), King William III and Queen Mary II, King Henry VIII and several British and Dutch nobles, as well as Frisian Nassaus from the museum’s own collection. That includes a lovely brand new painting of Anna of Hannover, wife of Stadtholder Willem IV. Apart from all the royals and nobles, there are also other interesting portraits like Malala, The Beatles, Audrey Hepburn or Ed Sheeran.

Apart from at the start of the exhibition, we arrived just around the time of opening, it was not overly busy at the exhibition. I nearly knew all the names of the people on the portraits, even discovering the portrait of the Brönte sisters that I once used for a piece I wrote at school. The exhibition was bigger and as said with a lot more noble and royal portraits than I had expected. I enjoyed the space I had to have a look at the items, and you could even sit on some places to enjoy the paintings and photos on display. Overall it was a really good experience.

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