National Portrait Gallery

Course Dates: 25/02/19 - 25/03/19
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: OS - Off Site
Tutor: Leslie Primo

Discover portraiture and the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Different periods and styles are discussed each week in front of the portraits. Includes visits to the current temporary exhibitions. Please contact the department for the meeting place for this course after you have enrolled: 020 7492 2700 or 2703 or email


What is the course about?

The National Portrait Gallery houses one of the world's greatest portrait collections. As a collection of British portraits, it is also one of the best places to learn about British history. This course offers an accessible introduction to the Gallery and its collection. Each week we focus on a different aspect of portraiture, and the history of Britain represented by groups of portraits from the same period.
Meet on the Ground floor, Ondaatje Wing, at the bottom of the big escalator.

What previous students liked most about their course:
“Excellent teacher. Engaging course.”
“Leslie Primo – brilliant and knowledgeable about subject. Well prepared and experienced.”
“The way the course was taught: friendly, thorough and knowledgeable.”


What will we cover?

The course follows the display of portraits at the NPG which is currently organised into historical periods: Tudors; Stuarts; Georgians and Regency; Victorians; twentieth century and contemporary works. Each class will combine looking at elements of portraiture and thinking about the period of British history under review. Because the NPG is not primarily a collection of art, the course does not focus heavily on art history, however the tutor will present information on the history of art in Britain as part of the background to the study of British portraiture. The course will include a visit to the current temporary exhibitions (ticket price not included in the course fees).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Recognise different styles and types of portrait
• Describe portraits in the NPG and express an informed personal response
• Demonstrate an understanding of the periods of British history covered by the NPG
• Talk about portraiture with greater confidence.

What students have achieved on their National Portrait Gallery course run in 2014/15:
“A greater understanding of the importance of the paintings in the gallery.” CM
“Learnt how to look at a painting and ask questions pertaining to content to better appreciate it.” HD
“Greater understanding of the history of art and historical events.” SP


What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is open to all. No prior knowledge of the subject is required.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions to support demonstrations, hand-outs and for health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course is not based around lecturing. Each week the tutor will select a small number of works from the current displays and present them to the group. Group discussion comprises the main part of each class. The tutor will lead the discussion and ensure that all the students have their say. Personal and individual responses will be valued. The tutor will supply written notes and photocopies of relevant reading material.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

The course fees do not include entry into the paying temporary exhibitions. You may wish to buy some of the books on the reading list.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Some of the other gallery-based art history courses at City Lit may interest you. For example 'Introduction to the Tate in London' and 'Contemporary art showing in London'.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Sorry, this course is now full

Course Code: VB151

Full Mon, day, 25 Feb - 25 Mar '19

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Full fee: £129.00
Senior fee: £103.00
Concession: £79.00

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.