Exposed: The Naked Portrait

An exhibition jointly curated between the National Portrait Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery

Mick Jagger; Jerry Hall by Norman Parkinson, Jul 81 © Norman Parkinson Iconic Images


Until Sunday 3 March

Visitor information

Opening Times

Tuesday10am - 5pm
Wednesday10am - 5pm
Friday10am - 5pm
Saturday10am - 5pm
Sunday2pm - 5pm

*10am - 5pm on bank holidays


No need to book tickets in advance. Please purchase tickets for the exhibition on the day from the Laing shop.


Full price*£10
Multi-visit £15.20
Multi-visit member£9.60
12 and underfree

Max Card holders, members of NMDC and Museum Association and exhibition lenders: Free

*Including a voluntary donation

**Concessions include senior citizens (65+), 12-18 year olds, students, registered unemployed, disabled people (plus free entry for one carer).

***Two adults and two 12-18 year olds or one adult and three 12-18 year olds.

****Membership discount applies to Friends of the Laing, Art Fund members and Laing Exhibition Partners.

To be eligible for discounts you must show proof of age/status/membership


As featured in The Timesi NewspaperNarc Magazine and The Guardian.

Please note due to the explicit nature of this exhibition those aged 16 years and below must be accompanied by an adult.

This exhibition of unclothed portraits from the National Portrait Gallery Collection invites questions about identity and gender, the real and ideal. It includes portraits of exposed sitters from Nell Gwyn to Naomi Campbell, Gilbert & George to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Featured artists include Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, Sam Taylor-Johnson, David Hockney, Annie Leibovitz, Linda McCartney, Tracy Emin, David Bailey, Mario Testino and Dorothy Wilding. This exhibition is a partnership jointly curated between the National Portrait Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery.

Exposure has more than one meaning. It can describe harmful or welcome experiences: the revelation of a shameful secret or the achievement of longed-for publicity for a person or cause. It can refer to acute vulnerability or complete self-assurance. The various meanings of ‘exposed’ can be found in the portraits in this exhibition.

A distinction is often made between the naked and the nude. Nakedness is associated with authenticity – ‘the naked truth’. In contrast, the nude belongs to a tradition of idealised figures that extends back to ancient Greece and was central to artistic training from the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century.

The exhibition is divided into two parts; Bodies of Desire focuses on the vital role of gender and sexuality in portraiture and how it exhibits elements associated with the nude such as an interest in the eroticised or idealised body. In close juxtaposition, Reclaiming the Body addresses postmodern and feminist theory and ways in which it has brought about a reappraisal of the naked body in art.

All of the images in Exposed are naked portraits rather than depictions of the nude. This is due to their focus on particular individuals. There are numerous reasons for artists to create naked portraits and for sitters to pose for them. Freed from the social and cultural markers of clothing, naked portraits enable artists to explore various expressive and formal questions. The portraits in this display show that naked portraits can be flattering or honest, seductive or shocking, vulnerable or liberating.

This exhibition is accompanied by a display of portraits from the Laing Art Gallery and Hatton Gallery in gallery C. This display is part of the offer for Exposed and is included in the ticket price. 

Highlights include key works by leading artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Allan Ramsay, William Orpen, George Clausen and Chris Ofili, Thomas Lawrence, Augustus John, Sir John Lavery, Beryl Fowler and Christina Robertson.

Image: Mick Jagger; Jerry Hall by Norman Parkinson, July 81 © Norman Parkinson / Iconic Images (detail)


National Portrait Gallery