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National Portrait Gallery to boost female representation on display

Anna May Wong by Atelier Gudenberg, published by Ross-Verlag, 1920s (National Portrait Gallery, London)
Anna May Wong by Atelier Gudenberg, published by Ross-Verlag, 1920s (National Portrait Gallery, London)

The National Portrait Gallery will increase its representation of female artists and sitters on display when it reopens, it has said.

The gallery, in London, is closed until 2023 as part of a £35.5 million redevelopment project.

It now plans to boost the representation of women featured in its collection.

The gallery will also highlight “overlooked stories of individual women who have shaped British history and culture”, it said.

Noor Inayat Khan by unknown photographer, 1937 (National Portrait Gallery, London)

Its director Nicholas Cullinan said the “important project… will significantly enhance the representation of women artists and sitters within our collection”.

It will also acquire portraits of women not yet represented and commission new portraits of “trailblazing” contemporary women.

Women whose portraits and stories will be explored include modern painters such as Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Gluck, who was also a trailblazer in gender fluidity.

Also featured will be Patience Lovell Wright, an 18th century wax sculptor whose portraits preceded Madame Tussaud.

The role of women photographers and the contribution of women, such as secret agent Noor Inayat Khan,  to the war effort is also a topic of research.

Reframing Narratives: Women In Portraiture, a three-year project with Chanel, will “challenge traditional notions of women’s careers and how we think about women in relation to their male counterparts”.

Flavia Frigeri, Chanel curator of the collection at the gallery, said: “Building on the National Portrait Gallery’s long-standing commitment to gender equality, I am excited to find further meaningful ways to put women in the spotlight and tell urgent and untold stories that broaden definitions of greatness.”

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