The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Clare Barlow

Clare Barlow

Assistant Curator

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Job description

My main tasks as an assistant curator include researching and writing texts for new displays and exhibitions, working with the curators to assess potential new acquisitions for the Collection and answering enquiries from the public.  I work across two main periods, the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries, and I love this variety.  My recent displays include The Art of Drawing: Works from the Collection 1670-1780, Cornelia Sorabji: India’s first woman lawyer and Jacob Epstein: Portrait Sculptor.


I was appointed Assistant Curator in October 2011, but I originally joined the National Portrait Gallery in 2005, on a collaborative PhD programme with King’s College London.  This was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and allowed me to write my PhD thesis while working on the 2008 exhibition Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings.  Aside from the exhibition, a highlight of my PhD was being awarded the Fletcher Jones short-term fellowship at the Huntington Library and Archive in California.  Prior to my PhD, I studied history for my BA and MPhil at Cambridge University.

Research interests

My doctoral thesis was called Eighteenth Century Women Writers in the Public Eye: Virtue, Patriotism and Publication.  It used manuscript and print sources, portraits and satirical prints to explore the fame of a group of successful women writers in the eighteenth century.   I am interested in issues of gender and representation across all the periods I have studied – my MPhil dissertation looked at sanctity and the body in Counter-Reformation Italy.

Recent Publications

‘Virtue, Patriotism and Female Scholarship in Bluestocking Portraiture’ (a chapter in a collection of essays, forthcoming 2013)

‘Carter, Talbot and Johnson: Female Collaboration and ‘The Rambler’’, article in The New Rambler, Journal of the Johnson Society of London, 2010/2011