The People’s Portrait Collection was mounted in 2000 as a millenial exhibition. The idea was to represent ordinary people from all walks of life, and thereby offer a picture of the United Kingdom as it moved from the 20th century into the 21st.
The resulting collection, owned by the Society, is rich in the diversity of its subjects. Each year a portrait is donated to the collection, usually by a newly elected member. In some instances, members generously paint a portrait specifically for the People’s Portraits. Released from the ‘brief’ of a commission, the artists often choose sitters that they have long wanted to paint. This adds to the unique quality of the collection.
People’s Portraits received its 50th portrait from long serving member John Walton. As each year progresses the collection becomes increasingly popular, with each September unveiling accompanied by a talk from an eminent speaker. Past speakers have included historian David Starkey and art critic Martin Gayford.