The Parliamentary Art Collection is owned jointly by the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is displayed throughout the buildings of the Parliamentary Estate. It is a national collection which illustrates the history of Parliament and British politics over the centuries.
Images of leading Parliamentarians form a key part of the Collection, including Prime Ministers and Speakers of the House of Commons. The House of Lords has portraits of Lord Chancellors, its members, and in the State Apartments, images of Monarchs. Both Houses have group portraits which document historic events in the two debating chambers, as well as the changing membership.
The earliest works of art in the Collection relate to the medieval Palace of Westminster and are 14th century statues of Kings in the Gothic style which complement the Perpendicular Gothic re-modelling of Westminster Hall . During the mid-19th Century many of the larger works were commissioned as part of the building of the new Palace of Westminster.
The Buildings of the Palace of Westminster and Parliamentary Estate are also well-represented in the Collection. These chart the evolution of the buildings through the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, including the dramatic fire of 1834, the construction of the New Palace of Westminster and recent additions to the Partliamentary Estate including Portcullis House.
The House of Lords and House of Commons Works of Art Committees pursue active acquisition policies and, since 1990, have expanded the Contemporary Collection by promoting the work of living artists. The commissioning of portraits of current and recent Parliamentarians is one of the priorities in building up the Contemporary Collection, as well as acquiring works of art from around the United Kingdom, which showcase the work of regional artists and bring together images from around the country.