The origins of the National Portrait Collection date back to 1875. Over the years the collection has been developed with additions of paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculpture depicting prominent Irish individuals who have contributed to the civic, social, and cultural life of the nation. Since 1998, generously supported by Irish Life & Permanent, the Collection has been enhanced by a series of commissioned portraits of prominent figures from contemporary Irish life. The annual Hennessy Portrait Prize, launched in 2014, has further contributed to the growth of this significant collection.
A recent addition to the collection is a specially commissioned portrait of broadcaster Graham Norton by Gareth Reid. Gareth Reid was announced winner of ‘Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017’ and commissioned by the programme to paint a portrait of Graham Norton for the Gallery. The portrait is currently on display in the National Portrait Gallery.
A portrait of Garry Hynes, the internationally renowned theatre director and co-founder of Druid, was unveiled in April in the Gallery. The portrait bust by award-winning artist Vera Klute was specially commissioned as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2015.