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.

Advanced Collection search

Clare Freestone

Clare Freestone

Curator, Photographs (Acquisitions and Collections)

Job description

As Curator, Photographs (Acquisitions and Collections, part-time) my work at the Gallery involves working with the breadth of the Photographic Collection comprising 250,000 items and with the varied subjects the photographs depict from the 1840s to the present day. I assume some responsibility for new acquisitions in photography and the care and cataloguing of the Collection. 

Some of the more recent displays I have curated include Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair, The Bloomsbury Poet & The Cambridge Photographer: Julian Bell & Lettice Ramsey, with Peter Stansky, Famous in the Fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson, Private Eye: Photographs by Lewis Morley, Scandal ’63: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Profumo Affair, and Public and Private: Winston Churchill in Photographs.


I joined the Photographs department of the National Portrait Gallery in 2000 as Assistant Curator. Some of the displays that I curated as such include Seizing an Instant: Photographs by Roger Mayne (2004), John Gay: Portraits in Print (2006), Private View: British Pop and the 60s Art Scene (2007) and Jazz in London: Photographs by Walter Hanlon (2008). In 2009 I was appointed Associate Curator for the exhibition and publication Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer (2011) and since January 2016 my post prioritises acquisitions and the collection. I studied BA Hons Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art (1994-8), writing my dissertation on the work of Alberto Giacometti and Germaine Richier and the concerns of Existentialism.

Research interests

Whilst at the National Portrait Gallery I have developed my interest in post-war photography and culture. The research that I undertook for the exhibition of the work of Ida Kar, a photographer of Armenian origin, portraying artists and writers in London and Paris in the 1950s and 1960s, led to a specific interest in this period and milieu. Conferences/ discussions include Exhibiting Art in Post War Britain, January 2016, Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits, Geffrye Museum June 2017, South Asian Modernists 1953-63, the Whitworth, December 2017.

Recent Publications

Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer (NPG, 2011), Ida Kar: Portraits of F.N. Souza (Grosvenor Vadhera, 2011).



Make a donation

Support our Making History appeal and help us transform the Gallery.

Help us make history

Online shop

A unique range of books, accessories and gifts. Every purchase supports the Gallery’s work.

Shop now

Bring a familiar face home

Refresh your home gallery with a huge selection of custom art prints .

Buy a print