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Best of British

Contemporary Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, London

Friday 17 November 2000 until Sunday 18 February 2001

For the first hundred years or so of its existence, The National Portrait Gallery in London had no contemporary collection at all.

Sir Richard Branson, 1999 by David Mach (b. 1956)
Sir Richard Branson, 1999 by David Mach (b. 1956)

Founded by act of parliament in 1856, the Gallery had a brief to collect the likenesses of famous British historical figures. In trying to find a way to acknowledge lasting eminence, but exclude ephemeral celebrity, the trustees decided that with the sole exception of the reigning sovereign, subjects included not only had to be dead, but dead for ten years.