Jacob Simon

Jacob Simons

Research Fellow

Job description

My role is a voluntary one. It focuses on three areas of research: maintaining and extending the existing online research resources on the Gallery's website as described below, providing information on the Gallery's collections online, and pursuing other research on portraiture and related subjects. In addition, I have taken on the role of Editor for the Walpole Society's annual volume devoted to publishing source material and other original research into the history of British art. I work at the Gallery on Fridays and sometimes on other mornings but otherwise am researching in libraries and collections.


II retired as Chief Curator in 2011. I joined the National Portrait Gallery in 1983 as 18th Century Curator, and before that worked at Leeds City Art Gallery and Temple Newsam House, and at the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, Marble Hill House and Ranger’s House. Exhibitions that I have organized include English Baroque Sketches (1974), Thomas Hudson: portrait painter and collector (1977), Handel: a celebration of his life and times (1985), The Art of the Picture Frame: artists, patrons and the framing of portraits in Britain (1996) and Icons and Idols: Commissioning Contemporary Portraits (2006). In a voluntary capacity, I was a member of various National Trust committees, 1969-2002.

Research interests

Ongoing projects include regularly updating four online resources: British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950; British picture framemakers, 1600-1950; British picture restorers, 1600-1950 and British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980. New resources are being made available in 2017 on British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks at Artists, their materials and suppliers. I am working on additional institutional histories to add to the resource on British picture restorers. Other interests include Van Dyck and picture framing at the court of Charles I, and Lucian Freud and his materials as an artist. I am completing a study of the Gallery's collection of medals and medallions and I have facilitated the process of placing John Kerslake's catalogue, Early Georgian Portraits, online.

Recent publications

A new revised and expanded 2nd edition of British picture restorers, 1600-1950 went online in 2014 and is updated at six-monthly intervals to reflect the latest research. A new revised and expanded 3rd edition of British picture framemakers, 1600-1950 went online in 2012, now covering the period, 1600-1950, and is similarly updated. A study of standard canvas sizes in British painting, ‘Three-quarters, kit-cats and half-lengths’: British portrait painters and their canvas sizes, 1625-1850 was made available in 2013. A chapter, ‘Picture Framing at Ham House in the Seventeenth Century’, was published in C. Rowell (ed.), Ham House: 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage, in 2013, and a separate guide, Picture frames at Ham House, was published in 2014 and is available at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/document-1355850583637/. A chapter, ‘John Singer Sargent and the Framing of his Pictures’, was published in Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925, Complete Paintings, vol.9, 2016.

and is similarly updated

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