Marina Warner, Hilary Mantel, Esther Freud, Joanna Trollope, Sir David Hare, Sir Michael Holroyd and Dame Jacqueline Wilson are among those who have created hand-written Pen Portraits for the Gala.Inspired by portraits in the Gallery’s Collection, Pen Portraits, offered at £500, have also been written by Ben Okri, Sir Max Hastings, A S Byatt, Amanda Foreman, Sarah Singleton and Sir Roy Strong. Mantel has chosen a portrait of Thomas Cromwell revisiting the subject of her award-winning novel Wolf Hall whilst Hare has opted for Oscar Wilde, also the subject of one of his works. Richard E Grant, Grace Coddington, Sir Paul Smith, Maggi Hambling, Gok Wan, John Swannell and Alex Katz are some of the artists who have contributed Mystery Portrait Postcards. A special display of over 200 postcards, each card on sale at £250 on a first-come, first-served basis at the Gala, will then remain open at the Gallery for two days from 12 February for visitors to buy.
Funds raised by the Gala will support the Gallery’s daily work of delivering inspirational exhibitions and displays, offering unique learning opportunities and undertaking world class research. Some proceeds will go towards the Gallery’s Portrait Fund which enables the Gallery to acquire portraits of outstanding national importance for the Collection. Gala guests will be able to bid in a live auction led by Sotheby’s Lord Dalmeny for auction lots which include the opportunity to have a head and shoulders portrait painted by Jonathan Yeo and Nicky Philipps or a group portrait by Peter Monkman, to purchase a study of Self by Marc Quinn, to co-curate the Gallery’s Taylor WessingPhotographic Portrait Prize 2014 exhibition or to sponsor a conservation project.
A Raffle will offer guests the chance to win one of 40 luxury prizes. These include a Giles Deacon dress, a Philip Treacy hat and a Stella McCartney hand-bag. Other items include two exclusive Race Club passes to the Revolution track cycling series from FACE Partnership, restaurant vouchers for Soho House, Sketch and the Portrait Restaurant and tickets for the Almeida, English National Ballet, The National Theatre, The Old Vic and Gate Theatre Notting Hill.
Leon Max, Gala Sponsor, says: ‘I find portraiture as a genre with all its nuances of facial expressions, poses, clothes, backgrounds and symbolic details absolutely fascinating. The National Portrait Gallery, under the direction of Sandy Nairne, is a remarkable institution that not only gives visitors an excellent historical perspective, but also showcases the best contemporary works in a great variety of individual styles in its Collection, displays and exhibitions, including the annual BP Portrait Award andTaylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. I commend them
for their passion and connoisseurship.’
Juliet Stevenson, Gala Committee Chair says: ‘It has been my honour and my great delight to have chaired the Gala Committee. I first fell in love with the National Portrait Gallery as a drama student, seeking inspiration for the playing of characters. For me then, the Gallery became a place of endless fascination and solace. I continued to visit in the ensuing years, and later brought my children too, to wander through its democratic spaces, to experience the joy of mingling with both the chattering crowd in the Gallery and the silent crowd on its walls.’
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The 2014 Portrait Gala is a great occasion of celebration, benefiting the Gallery’s collection through the Portrait Fund and its work more generally. I am hugely grateful to all those who are helping make this possible, including very notable writers and artists.’
Others attending the black-tie event include: David Bailey, Olympic Gold medallist Katherine Grainger, Grayson Perry, Marc Quinn, Jane Asher, Gerald Scarfe and Jonathan Yeo.
Photo: (left to right):Thomas Cromwell, after Holbein (chosen by Hilary Mantel); Frederick Burnaby by Tissot, 1870 (chosen by Sir Max Hastings); Charles Rennie Mackintosh by James Craig Annan (chosen by Esther Freud)