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A visual pantheon of the greatest names in British history and culture, the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery contains more than 11,000 paintings, sculptures and works on paper and over a quarter of a million photographs. This book presents a broad selection of the personalities that have shaped the last four centuries of British life, from Elizabeth I to David Beckham, from Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney, portrayed by artists as diverse as Hans Holbein, David Bailey, Joshua Reynolds and Paula Rego. The featured works are arranged chronologically in sections, each of which is prefaced by a text written by the curator for that period, drawing on their expert knowledge and recent research. Each image is accompanied by an extended caption that provides key information on the sitter and the artist, and places the work in its historical and creative context.