Rosie Broadley

Ruth Brimacombe

Collections Curator 19th Century

Job description

I work on the 19th, 20th and Contemporary collections, assisting period curators with research, including enquiries and potential acquisitions. I organise displays and give public tours and talks.  Since joining the Gallery I have curated displays on subjects as diverse as the portrait drawings of Sir Francis Chantrey, the publication of D.H.Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover , Michael Landy: Art World Portraits, Humphrey Ocean: A handbook of modern life, Suffragettes: Deeds not Words and installations such as Noble and Webster’s taxidermy portrait of Isabella Blow.  I help to manage the Gallery’s commissioning programme, working with artists and sitters on recent portraits including Shami Chakrabarti by Gillian Wearing and Sir James Dyson by Julian Opie.  In 2013 I curated Laura Knight Portraits, the first exhibition devoted to portraits by this fascinating twentieth-century British artist.                                                                                    


I studied History of Art at the University of Bristol and before my appointment as Assistant Curator at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005 I worked as museum assistant at the Wallace Collection and documentation officer at the Holburne Museum in Bath.  In 2007, whilst working at the Gallery, I undertook a part-time masters degree in English Literature: Life-Writing at King’s College, focussing on the relationship between forms of biography/autobiography and portraiture.

Research interests

I continue to be interested by the relationship between written life-stories and visual portraits and when curating the exhibition of portraits by Dame Laura Knight in 2013 I found wonderful material in Knight’s two autobiographies.  Research interests include portraits of 19th and 20th century female suffragists, including the portrait of Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright (1908) (see blog), British Academic portrait painters working between 1900 and 1939, and the interactive nature of contemporary portraits.

Recent Publications

Publications include an Introduction to Humphrey Ocean: A handbook of modern life, Lecturis, 2012, and Laura Knight Portraits, exhibition catalogue, National Portrait Gallery, 2013.

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