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Helen Trompeteler

Helen Trompeteler

Former Assistant Curator of Photographs

My Posts:

Job description

My responsibilities as Assistant Curator of Photographs include liaising with photographers regarding new acquisitions for the Collection, preparing Gallery displays, answering public enquiries, providing study group sessions, and contributing to research for forthcoming exhibitions such as Man Ray Portraits (2013). My most recent display Fred Daniels: Cinema Portraits celebrates the career of Fred Daniels, pioneer of British ‘Stills’ and portrait photography, known for his collaborations with film directors including E.A. Dupont, Herbert Wilcox and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Further displays also include Spotlight on Peter Randwhich showcased ten recently acquired portraits of key figures from the 1960s by this important Vogue photographer, and Sandra Lousada: Work and Performance which focused on Lousada’s early theatre, film and literary portraits of figures such as Tom Courtenay, James Fox, Sarah Miles, Laurie Lee, Vanessa Redgrave and Rita Tushingham.


My first degree was in Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Exeter. After working at Retna, a leading picture agency, I joined the National Portrait Gallery as a Picture Librarian in 2002. Since becoming Assistant Curator of Photographs in 2009, I have completed an MA in Museum Studies (by distance learning) with the University of Leicester in 2011. Within the wider photographic community, I have also worked as a juror on exhibitions with the Horniman Museum and London Independent Photography.

Research interests

My MA dissertation research explored contemporary art collecting, specifically how audience experience and use of interpretation may justify long term collections development. My research focused on the National Portrait Gallery’s own collection and audiences, and those of the Wellcome Trust and Towner contemporary art museum.

My current research interests cover all aspects of the history of photography, with a special focus on early twentieth century European photography and also the work of 60s British photographers.

Recent Publications

Recent writing includes an illustrated chronology of Man Ray’s life and career for the forthcoming catalogue Man Ray Portraits (2013). An essay on the life and work of modernist photographer Lucia Moholy was published by Photomonitor (2012), and I contributed a catalogue essay on the fashion photographer, Brian Duffy, entitled ‘Brian Duffy: The Man Who Shot the Sixties’, to an exhibition of the same name held at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (2011).