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.

Peter Funnell

Peter Funnell

Head of Research and Senior Curator

My Posts:

Job description

I combine two roles at the Gallery. As Curator of Nineteenth-Century Portraits I am responsible for the Gallery’s permanent Victorian display and for the Gallery’s collection at Bodelwyddan Castle.  I also devote a lot of time to temporary exhibitions, either curating them myself or working with external curators.  Day-to-day curatorial work includes making acquisitions and advising outside bodies and scholars.  I became Head of Research Programmes eight years ago with responsibility for co-ordinating and promoting research at the Gallery. As such I am the Gallery’s main point of liaison with research institutions such as universities and funding bodies like the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Biography

I studied English and the History of Art at University College London and took a doctorate in the History of Art at Oxford University.  I had a year-long fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art and worked in the United States on a major exhibition and educational project on William Wordsworth and English Romanticism in the mid-1980s.  After two years teaching back in the United Kingdom I joined the National Portrait Gallery in 1990 where, along with my other curatorial and research work, I directed the research of 10,000 portrait illustrations for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  I am a member of a number of outside advisory committees and became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2011.  

Research interests

My doctoral thesis was on the connoisseur, collector and theorist Richard Payne Knight and I continue to be interested in British art theory and the London art world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,  Since joining the Gallery I have specialised in nineteenth-century portraiture across all media and have published and lectured on the representation of masculinity in British portraiture.  Other research areas include the history of museum display and I am becoming increasingly interested in art and the British Empire.

Recent Publications

Recent publications include Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance, with A Cassandra Albinson and Lucy Peltz, Yale University Press, 2010 and ‘Portraits, Power and Gender’ in Portraits and Power, People, Politics and Structures, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze, 2010, accompanying a contemporary art exhibition for which I was an advisor and selector.  In 2011 I co-authored the Gallery’s Guide to Victorian & Edwardian Portraits with Jan Marsh.