View and zoom into this image on our new collection website
48 Portraits
© Gerhard Richter

Reference URL

48 Portraits 1971 - 1972 / 1998

Not on display

  • Artist Rooms
This is one of four photographic sets of ‘48 Portraits’ that Richter made in 1998. It is based on the paintings of the same title that he made for the German Pavilion in the 1972 Venice Biennale. Richter had long had the idea of painting a series of famous men; being nominated to represent Germany and show in the neo-classical building in Venice gave him the opportunity he needed. Richter based his painting on the black and white photographic images of famous men of letters, philosophers and scientists that he found in various encyclopaedia and dictionaries. Richter avoided artists, because he did not wish to set up a canon of his artistic forefathers. He has simplified the backgrounds and, to some extent, the figures, so that they have as much formal similarity as possible.

Glossary Open


The revival of ancient Greek and Roman models of art and architecture, with particular importance put on simplicity and discipline. Such ideals have been revived at various points in history and contrast with more decadent and dynamic styles such as the Baroque.

Venice Biennale

An international art exhibition founded in 1895 and held every two years, characterised by its use of national pavilions.

Neo-classicism, Venice Biennale


  • Acc. No. AR00025
  • Medium 48 photographs, black and white, on paper between Perspex and aluminium board
  • Size Each: 68.9 cm x 53.9 cm x 2.8 cm
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008