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People's Portraits

Ordinary people from all walks of life

The People’s Portraits Exhibition

In 2000, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters mounted a millennial exhibition entitled People’s Portraits. 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 is rich in the diversity of its subjects. The artists are all members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

This exciting and original collection has been housed at Girton College since 2002 as a long-term loan. The concept of this exhibition chimes well with the College ethos of community and interest in art. New portraits by members of the RP are added to the collection every year, and there are now 60 paintings in the exhibition.

Visiting the exhibition

The exhibition is open to the public daily 9am-5pm. If you would like to visit with a group of more than 6 people please contact us to book a visit.  

Please be aware we may need to close the exhibition at short notice; any such closure will be recorded on this webpage. 


We have an activity pack for primary and secondary school age groups, and other useful information.

List of portraits displayed below (L–R) first row: Dede Cossta, Brazilian dancer by Sheldon Hutchinson; Girish Sethna, Note-Taker by Alastair Christian Adams; second row: Marc Crank by Alastair Christian Adams; The Boxer by David Caldwell.

Recent Events

On Thursday 11 May 2023 we hosted a reception at the Mall Galleries in London to celebrate the People's Portraits Collection - a long-standing partnership between The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and Girton College. A selection of portraits from the collection were on display as part of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition. We were honoured to have Dame Marina Warner, CH, DBE, FBA,FRSL, as our guest speaker for the event. The title of her talk was Presences.

More about the event can be found in our Events Archive.

You can view a Flickr album from the event here: Mall Galleries, London

Dame Marina Warner speaks to guests at the Mall Galleries

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