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Shakespeare to Winehouse: Icons from the National Portrait Gallery, London

Peruse portraits of famous faces from the past 500 years — The Beatles, David Bowie, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai all included.
By Sarah Ward
March 14, 2022
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By Sarah Ward
March 14, 2022
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Forget Instagram — when it comes to peering at famous faces, portrait galleries have been serving up the goods since long before social media ever existed. Think of a well-known name not just in recent times, but going back decades, centuries and longer, and it's likely that someone somewhere once painted their likeness.

The Beatles, David Bowie, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai: they've all been given the portrait treatment, and the results — or one painting bearing their faces, at least — are now on display at Shakespeare to Winehouse: Icons from the National Portrait Gallery, London. Showing at Canberra's National Portrait Gallery, this is the type of exhibition that arises when one portrait gallery teams up with another; think of it as the Inception of portrait showcases.

There's a heavy British skew, naturally, covering people who have shaped UK history, identity and culture over the past 500 years. Accordingly, other famous folks gracing the NPG's walls include both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and Princess Diana, as well as Lord Nelson, Sir Isaac Newton and Ed Sheeran, Darcey Bussell.

As mentioned in the exhibition's name, both the Bard and Amy Winehouse obviously also feature, in an exhibition that's sorted by theme rather than year. And, by grouping portraits around fame, power, love and loss, identity, innovation and self, Shakespeare to Winehouse: Icons from the National Portrait Gallery, London also examines how portraiture has evolved over the years — all across a season that runs from Saturday, March 12–Sunday, July 17.

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