Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

William John Christopher Vassall

© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

How you can use this image

This image can be used for non-commercial research or private study purposes, and other UK exceptions to copyright permitted to users based in the United Kingdom under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised. Any other type of use will need to be cleared with the rights holder(s).

Review the copyright credit lines that are located underneath the image, as these indicate who manages the copyright (©) within the artwork, and the photographic rights within the image.

The collection that owns the artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

Review our guidance pages which explain how you can reuse images, how to credit an image and how to find images in the public domain or with a Creative Commons licence available.

Buy a print or image licence

If you like this artwork you can support the collection by purchasing a reproduction as a framed OR unframed art print. We offer a selection of professionally made frames that will make your purchase look great in your home, office or other preferred setting.

Need a digital version for your site or publication? You can purchase a digital licence from Art UK and download an electronic copy of this reproduction.


Add or edit a note on this artwork that only you can see. You can find notes again by going to the ‘Notes’ section of your account.

Vassall was an RAF photographer during the Second World War, who in 1946, worked as a clerk in the Admiralty. In 1954 he was appointed assistant to the British naval attaché in Moscow, where he was blackmailed by the KGB for his homosexuality. On return to London in 1956 he was assigned to the Admiralty's Naval Intelligence Division. He provided the Soviets with thousands of classified documents. Promoted in 1959, he conveyed Admiralty secrets concerning radar, torpedoes, and anti-submarine devices. The defection of Golitsin in 1961 gave the CIA information about Soviet agents in the West. In 1962 he was arrested and confessed. In October 1962 he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment and released in 1972.

National Portrait Gallery, London



William John Christopher Vassall




oil on canvas


H 55.7 x W 35.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Given by executors of the Estate of Eileen Hose, 1991

Work type



See a tag that’s incorrect or offensive? Challenge it and notify Art UK.

Help improve Art UK. Tag artworks and verify existing tags by joining the Tagger community.

National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

This venue is open to the public. Not all artworks are on display. If you want to see a particular artwork, please contact the venue.
View venue