Ruth Brimacombe

Ruth Brimacombe

Collections Curator 19th Century

Job description

As Collections Curator 19th Century, I am responsible for the acquisition, display, research, loan and interpretation of portraits from the Victorian and Edwardian period and manage the display of the permanent collection in the nineteenth-century galleries. I also work with the curatorial staff at Bodelwyddan Castle, one of the Gallery’s regional partners, on their display of works from the Gallery’s collection.  I provide advice to colleagues and other professionals about nineteenth-century portraits and respond to enquires from the general public and other organisations.


I took on the maternity leave post of Collections Curator 19th Century in January this year, having formerly worked at the Gallery as the Associate Curator (Research Coordinator) for 4.5 years and as Assistant Curator, 19th Century from July 2010 until August 2013. As Research Coordinator, I helped maintain and develop the Gallery’s academic activity as an accredited Independent Research Organisation (IRO). This involved developing doctoral study proposals under the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme and setting up the Danish-British portraiture Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Museum of National History in Denmark.  I routinely programmed a twice yearly series of evening research seminars. As an Assistant Curator, I curated several room displays including Victorian Masquerade, Beautiful Souls; Diplomatic Dignitaries; Viceroys of India:  Peace ridiculed: caricatures by Honoré Daumier; Herbert Morrison: The cockney socialist; a small exhibition entitled Queens in Waiting: Charlotte & Victoria and Charles Dickens: Life & Legacy, which marked the bicentennial anniversary of the celebrated author’s birth. I previously worked as the Fred Williams Research Assistant at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

My academic studies began with a BA (Hons) English Degree at King’s College London. I then completed an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck College London, as well as a Master of Art Curatorship and a PhD in Art History at the University of Melbourne in Australia.  I was formerly a Junior and Post-doctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art; a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Yale Centre for British Art; and a Leverhulme Fellow in the History of British Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery in 2008.  I am on the committee of the AAH Museum & Exhibition Group.

Research interests

My doctoral thesis is entitled Imperial Avatars: Art, India and the Prince of Wales 1875-6. It explores the work of the artists and photographers who accompanied the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) on his royal tour of India in the late nineteenth-century. My research interests continue to focus on the art and visual culture associated with the British Empire in the nineteenth century (particularly in Australia, India and Canada); royal portraiture; artist-reporters working for the illustrated press; the relationship between mass media and portraiture, and the transnational exchange of the British portrait.

Recent Publications

‘The Imperial Avatar in the Imagined Landscape: The Virtual Dynamics of the Prince of Wales’s Tour of India in 1875-6’ in Virtual Victorians: Networks, Connections, Technologies, Veronica Alfano and Andrew Stauffer (eds), Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 and the digital annex.

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