As a Collaborative Doctoral Award student with the National Portrait Gallery and Queen Mary University, London, I conduct research for my AHRC-funded project entitled “Radical Portraiture 1789-1819”.
I studied for a BA (Hons) in History at the University of Cambridge. Whilst at Cambridge I worked for the art consultancy Wedel Fine Art where one of my main achievements was project-managing the hanging of the permanent collection and first temporary exhibition (Theaster Gates) at the Arts Club Mayfair. After graduating, I joined the National Portrait Gallery as the Events Manager where I organised Gallery Private Views, portrait and display unveilings, Director and Trustees’ events. Whilst working at the Gallery, I undertook a part-time MA in 18th Century Studies at King’s College, London, and The British Museum. In 2014, I proposed a project on radical portraiture to Lucy Peltz, Curator, 18th Century Collections, at the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery was successful in gaining AHRC funding for the project which I began full-time in October 2015.
My doctoral research explores how the democratic reform movement, which campaigned for universal male suffrage in Britain, used portraits as protest objects to communicate their politically radical aims. Within British radical circles, portraits defined a sense of radical identity. Loyalists, who opposed the reform of parliament, satirised radicals and the monstrous depictions of key radical figures is the subject of large swathes of caricatures popular at the time. Using the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection as its starting point, this project assesses whether portraits of and for radicals created a distinctive ‘radical aesthetic’ and will chart the importance of portraiture within the visual and material cultures of radicalism in the late 18th and early 19th century.
During my MA, I became fascinated with the intersection of political and philosophical discourse with visual representation in the 18th Century. My dissertation focused on retrieving Mary Wollstonecraft’s thought on the fashionable female body and contextualising it within the fashion history of the 1780s and 1790s.