The National Portrait Gallery is a wonderful institution and is of great value to anyone who finds history and its players interesting. Its special exhibitions, on the other hand, are variable from that point of view and are too often merely collections of various glamour photographs of recent stars.
The First Actresses presents a vivid spectacle of femininity, fashion and theatricality in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain.Well, really, who can resist that?
Taking centre stage are the intriguing and notorious female performers of the period whose lives outside of the theatre ranged from royal mistresses to admired writers and businesswomen. The exhibition reveals the many ways in which these early celebrities used portraiture to enhance their reputations, deflect scandal and create their professional identities.