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.

Helena Cuss

Helena Cuss

Curatorial Assistant


Job description

As the Curatorial Assistant I provide support and assistance to the all the period curators with research for displays and exhibitions. I provide general administrative support to the Curatorial department, support fact checking and provenance research for cross-collections projects and have a particular focus on the Tudor to Regency collections. My current projects include catalogue research for an upcoming international touring exhibition, provenance research into the primary collection, and object research for a future 19th century exhibition.


I studied my BA in English Literature at the University of Exeter, before going on to do a MA in History of Art at the University of Warwick, on which I focused specifically on Renaissance Venice. Before joining the National Portrait Gallery I worked as the Architecture Programme Administrator at the Royal Academy of Arts, during which time I provided logistical and curatorial assistance for the displays Stories from the Past – Visions of the Future: The RA and its Buildings, and Peter Cook RA: Floating Ideas, received a credit as Picture Researcher for the publication Mavericks: Breaking the Mould of British Architecture, and organised the accompanying display. Prior to this I completed an eight month internship at Ben Uri Gallery, where I acted as curatorial assistant on the exhibition Max Weber: An American Cubist in Paris and London, 1905-15.

Research interests

My research interests are fairly diverse and tend to have an interdisciplinary approach. During my MA I focused my research on Venetian Cinquecento painting and the intersection of gender, sexuality, hair and costume, with particular reference to Titian and Palma il Vecchio . Since then I have developed interests in English Modernism, specifically in the relationships between the literary Bloomsbury Group, the Omega workshops and painters of the Camden Town group. I also have a long-standing interest in European symbolism at the end of the 19th century, particularly the Viennese Secession and English Pre-Raphaelites.