ARTS & CULTURE
10/05/2010 05:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Julian Fellowes, Joanna Trollope, Tracy Chevalier Imagine The Lives Of Unknown Portraits

We've all seen someone, whether in a painting or in person, that made us wonder what their story was - how did they get there, what did they do afterward, and so on. The National Portrait Gallery in London has taken that curiosity to a new level with their Imagined Lives: Mystery Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, c.1540-1640 exhibit. They recruited some of today's internationally acclaimed writers to pen imaginary lives for the portraits in the Gallery's permanent collection that remain otherwise nameless. From Julian Fellowes to Tracy Chevalier, some of the stories are first person accounts "by" the subject while others are commentary on the time when the portrait was painted.

For excerpts from the imagined life stories, click here.

From the National Portrait Gallery's website:

This new display looks in detail at thirteen portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, of sitters whose identities were uncertain. All dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, these portraits were originally thought to depict famous people including Queen Elizabeth I and the young pretender to the throne Lady Arabella Stuart, but these identities have long since been questioned. Inspired by these mystery portraits, internationally renowned authors John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope and Minette Walters have imagined what the lives of these sitters might have been like.

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