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Acquisitions and commissions

22 June 2020

The Parliamentary Art Collection at the House of Commons records those who have made a significant contribution to UK political life over the centuries and in each parliament the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art endeavours to update this record by adding to the Collection.

Parliament is a changing institution and the cross-party Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art has worked hard since it was established in the 1950s to develop the Collection, which had developed little since the Victorian era. Care was taken to fill significant gaps in the Collection and ensure that it was relevant for future generations. Prime Ministers have also been an ongoing focus in developing the portrait collection. An early acquisition included a portrait of Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, the first Prime Minister (painted in 1742), and over the last two decades images of Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair have been commissioned.

Once a parliamentarian has been selected by the Committee, he or she is approached and invited to sit, whilst in office, so as to maximise the relevance and historic value of the portrait to the Collection. Care is taken to match artist to the sitter and to introduce a variety of artistic styles and approaches, supporting UK-based artists, in order to develop a well-balanced contemporary collection.

Further information

 Image: Parliamentary copyright