The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Copyright and Re-use

The National Portrait Gallery's website is here for your enjoyment. You may access, download and/or print contents for non-commercial research and private study purposes. Please see the below guides to using our materials in any other way.

William Hogarth by William Hogarth © National Portrait Gallery, London
William Hogarth by William Hogarth, circa 1757-1758 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Using NPG Content

The National Portrait Gallery's website is here for your enjoyment. You may access, download and/or print contents for non-commercial research and private study purposes. If you wish to use this material in any other way, you must seek separate permission from us.

Here's how to apply for a licence:

Find the image you want to use at https://www.npg.org.uk/collections.php. Click “Use this image” and choose the appropriate licence option. Please note that not all images are available to license from us, and some images are restricted to certain types of licence.

For non-commercial online uses such as scholarly and non-profit websites, blogs, local society newsletters and family history projects you can obtain the free Creative Commons licence and obtain a low-resolution image (we do not permit the use of hi-resolution images online).

For private, non-commercial research, use in a classroom, use in a dissertation or for scholarly and non-commercial publications, if the combined print/electronic run is below 2,000 copies for books, or 4,000 copies for journals (and images are used inside (not on the cover) you can choose the “Academic Licence” option and obtain hi-resolution image/s free of charge (once you have registered your details and submitted your request via the website). If you want to order more than one image via the Academic Licence, once you have registered, and the first image is in your basket, you need to return to the main National Portrait Gallery website (www.npg.org.uk) to select the next image and request each one separately under the Academic Licence.

If the use you envisage does not meet the Creative Commons or Academic Licence criteria you will need to choose the Professional Licence option and fees will be payable (you need to pay online by credit card, but the website offers the best rates). You can also access the Professional Licence directly via our commercial image licensing website at www.npgimages.com.

If you want to use images in a way that isn’t covered by the licenses available online please contact us via e-mail at rightsandimages@npg.org.uk providing detailed information about how you want to use the images, your full postal address and contact details, and your deadline.

To license text, please contact Publications.

Copyright and the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery owns, generates and makes use of a range of items protected by IPR legislation. Diligent conduct in respect of these rights, as well as the protection, active use and careful development of the revenue-generating potential of the Gallery's IPR, are essential to the Gallery's functioning, good reputation, authority, sustainability and the achievement of its core objectives.

As a result of continuing research, from time to time adjustments are made in the attributions of artists and sitters, and these amendments are reflected in Gallery publications such as this website. Likewise, we ensure pictures are represented in their most recent state of restoration.

There are sometimes sensitive issues involving artists, sitters, donors or lenders of Collection works, to which we must be responsive. Accordingly, we tightly control the circumstances and quality of reproductions from the Collection.

The Gallery's image licensing department issues images for reproduction purposes. We also exert strict controls on all photography in the Gallery, which is allowed only on the understanding that copyright rests with us and that any further reproduction deriving from resulting photographic materials is subject to our written permission.

The Gallery is a strong supporter of free entry - we don't think visitors should have to pay to see the Collection. Those who may never be able to visit us can enjoy and learn about the Collection through images published in books and magazines, and on television and the internet.

The Gallery's image licensing department raises money by licensing reproductions, thus supporting both the free entry policy and the Gallery's main functions caring for its Collection and engaging people with its works.

The National Portrait Gallery champions clear and balanced information about copyright and licensing.

One of the Gallery’s aims is to promote the understanding and appreciation of portraiture in all media. One of the ways we do this is to champion the creation of new works via our annual competitions, the BP Portrait Award and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and the assist the creators in protecting these assets.

Copyright research and 'orphan works'

The National Portrait Gallery respects creators' rights. We have a good reputation for providing balanced advice, being duly diligent, following best copyright practice and using trusted, authoritative sources in our research. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, copyright holders remain untraceable.

Creations (in our case, portraits) whose copyright holder cannot be traced are sometimes known as ‘orphan works'.

Where diligent research has established the status of a portrait as an 'orphan work', we are obliged to achieve a balance of conflicting duties:

  • a responsibility to uphold the rights of consent of creators and copyright holders
  • a duty to make works available for visitors and on-line users to see.

We have decided, on a case-by-case basis, that showing a number of 'orphan works' on our website, and listing the creators' names on this page, is the most balanced approach to this conflict of duty.

If you have a legitimate claim to copyright in any of these works, or have any copyright information you think will be useful to us, please contact Gudrun Muller gmuller@npg.org.uk

Copyright research and 'orphan works'

Filming and Photography in the Gallery

Photography and filming in the main galleries is allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes only. It is the visitor’s responsibility to ensure no copyright or data protection is infringed. All other uses require prior permission from the Rights & Images department. Press image and filming enquiries should be made to the Press Office.

  • Tripods, monopods and flash lighting are prohibited at all times.
  • Photography and filming is not permitted in some temporary exhibitions or displays with loans – please see exhibition signage for details.
  • Please do not take photographs of or film staff or other visitors without prior permission.
  • Please show consideration for the privacy and experience of other visitors when taking photographs or filming.

Exceptions to this policy may be in place due to copyright restrictions or for reasons of security, conservation or in the interests of the overall visitor experience.

Filming at the Gallery Gallery Guidelines

Contact details

npgimages.com rightsandimages@npg.org.uk

Further information

Intellectual Property Rights Policy Notice and Take down Policy UK Intellectual Property Office Licensing newsletter sign up