Sophie Plender

Sophie Plender

Senior Research Conservator (Tudor Project)

Job description

My role as research conservator involves the study of the materials and techniques that were used in the Tudor and Jacobean portraits. I am responsible for co-ordinating the research techniques employed, which include microscopy, x-ray, infra-red reflectography, paint-sample analysis and dendrochronology, and for the entry of results into the database. See: Making Art in Tudor Britain

Currently I am researching and writing up some of the results for publication.


I studied the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute. This was followed by the post-graduate diploma in the conservation and technology of easel paintings, also at the Courtauld Institute. I worked for the National Portrait Gallery for many years as a part-time freelance paintings conservator, where the Tudor and Jacobean portraits have been of particular interest to me. In 2007 I became the Senior Research Conservator for the Making Art in Tudor Britain project, where I lead the technical analysis of the materials of the Tudor and Jacobean portraits.

I also work for the Dulwich Picture Gallery as consultant conservator.

Research interests

My interest in historic painting techniques, including artists’ treatises, has been developed in connection with my practice as a paintings conservator. My particular interest is the study of the materials and techniques employed by painters in the 16th and 17th centuries. On several occasions I have had the opportunity to work at the National Gallery as a visiting conservator with paintings from the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I was able to benefit from the technical research that is carried out routinely at the National Gallery. I am interested in how the appearance of paintings change over time, with the effects of chemical change in the materials and of the environment, and how this affects our current understanding of their original appearance.

Recent Publications

Making Art in Tudor Britain project, Technical Analysis on the Tudor Collection at the National Portrait Gallery 2007 -2009, with Tarnya Cooper and Sally Marriott,The Picture Restorer  (Journal of the British Association of Conservator Restorers), No 36, Spring 2010.

Publications list

2010    'Making Art in Tudor Britain, with Tarnya Cooper and Sally Marriott, The Picture Restorer (Journal of the British Association of Conservator Restorers) No. 36, Spring

2007    'The Agony and Ecstasy, Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastians’, Description of condition and technique of the Dulwich version, Exhibition catalogue, edited by Piero Boccardo and Xavier Salomon, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2007. For a full list of my publications see here.

2001    'The Kingston Lacy Screenwork’, with Ray Marchant, in The Picture Restorer, No. 19, Spring. 2001.

1997    ‘An English Painted Screen at Kingston Lacy’, Appendix on materials and technique, in article by Charles Tracey, Apollo Magazine, VOL CXLVI No. 425, July, 1997.

1995    'Conserving Old Masters, Description of conservation and technique of five paintings by Teniers, Cuyp, Rubens, Storck, Exhibition catalogue edited by Richard Beresford, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 1995

1993   ‘The Development of Rembrandt’s Girl at a Window’, essay in exhibition catalogue, Rembrandt’s Girl at a Window, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 1993

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