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Alexandra Gent

Conservator Paintings (Collections, Special Projects and Exhibitions)


Job description

As paintings conservator I am responsible for the conservation and preservation of paintings held in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, working with my colleagues in the conservation department. I provide conservation expertise in support of the Gallery’s collections, special projects and exhibitions.


I trained as a paintings conservator at the University of Canberra, Australia and am an accredited conservator-restorer (PACR). Prior to joining the Gallery in 2018 I worked for English Heritage, Tate, National Galleries of Scotland and the Wallace Collection, as well as in private practice. At the Wallace Collection I was paintings conservator for the Reynolds Research Project and co-curated the exhibition Joshua Reynolds, Experiments in Paint. Alongside working for the Gallery I am currently an AHRC-funded doctoral research student at the Courtauld Institute of Art and my thesis is entitled Repetition and Replication in Joshua Reynolds’s Subject Pictures.

Research interests

My research concentrates on artist’s materials and techniques, with a focus on eighteenth-century British painting, especially the work of Joshua Reynolds. I am interested in employing technical examination to explore artists’ creative processes, as well as investigating the methods used for producing multiple versions of paintings. Additionally, I have an interest in the way that paintings alter and change over time and the impact of this on their appearance and interpretation.  

Recent publications

Hellen, R and A. Gent, ‘Painting the Picture’ in J. Chu (ed.), In Focus: Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape c.1750 by Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Research Publication, 2016, 

Gent, A. and L. Davis, ‘Reynolds as Restorer: Prince Baltasar Carlos in Black and Silver’ in Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice, Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2016.

Gent, A, R. Morrison and N. von Aderkas, 1st olio after capivi Copaiba Balsam in the Paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds, in Studying 18th-Century Paintings and Works of Art on Paper, H. Evans and K. Muir (eds.), 2015, pp. 140-152

Gent, A, ‘Reynolds, Paint and Painting: A Technical Analysis’, Joshua Reynolds, Experiments in Paint, L. Davis and M. Hallett (eds.), 2015, pp. 42-53

Gent, A, A. Roy and R. Morrison, ‘Practice Makes Imperfect: Joshua Reynolds’s Painting Technique’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, A. Roy (ed.) Vol. 35, London, 2014 

Gent, A, R. Morrison and R. Jones, ‘The Strawberry Girl: Repetition in Reynolds’s Studio Practice’, European Paintings 15th–18th Century: Copying, Replicating and Emulating, E. Hermens (ed.), London 2014, pp.122–31


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