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 Mondays but otherwise am researching in libraries and collections.
I 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 organised 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.
Ongoing projects include regularly updating four online resources: British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950; British picture framemakers, 1630-1950 ; British picture restorers, 1630-1950 and British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 . I am working on a 2nd edition of the resource on British picture restorers to go live in 2014, together with an introductory history. Other interests include Van Dyck and picture framing at the court of Charles I, the development of 17th-century auricular picture frames as exemplified at Ham House (contribution to forthcoming publication) and Lucian Freud and his materials as an artist (forthcoming website contribution) and the use of standard canvas sizes in British painting (forthcoming website contribution). I am completing a study of the Gallery's collection of medals and medallions and I am facilitating the process of placing John Kerslake's catalogue, Early Georgian Portraits, online.
A new revised and expanded 3rd edition of British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 went online in October 2011 and is updated at six-monthly intervals to reflect the latest research. A new revised and expanded 3rd edition of British picture framemakers, 1630-1950 went online in December 2012, now covering the period, 1610-1950, and is similarly updated. Two studies on Sir Thomas Lawrence went live in 2011, Thomas Lawrence and picture framing and Thomas Lawrence's studios and studio practice. And 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 April 2013.