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.

Jacob Simon

Jacob Simon

Research Fellow

Job description

Research Fellow. A voluntary role focusing on three areas of research: maintaining and extending the existing online research resources on the Gallery's website as described below, providing information on the Gallery's collections, and pursuing other research on portraiture and related subjects. Additionally, Editor for the Walpole Society's annual volume devoted to publishing source material and other original research into the history of British art.


Chief Curator until 2011. Joined Portrait Gallery in 1983 as 18th Century Curator. Before that worked at Leeds City Art Gallery and Temple Newsam House, and at the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, Marble Hill House and Ranger’s House. Organized exhibitions on English Baroque Sketches (1974), Thomas Hudson: portrait painter and collector (1977), Handel: a celebration of his life and times (1985), The Art of the Picture Frame: artists, patrons and the framing of portraits in Britain (1996) and Icons and Idols: Commissioning Contemporary Portraits (2006). Member of various National Trust committees in a voluntary capacity, 1969-2002.

Research interests

Ongoing projects include regularly updating four online resources to reflect the latest research: British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950; British picture framemakers, 1600-1950; British picture restorers, 1600-1950 and British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980. Nine illustrated guides to British canvas, stretcher and panel suppliers’ marks were made available in 2017 at Artists, their materials and suppliers and further guides are proposed. It is planned to add additional institutional histories to the resource on British picture restorers. Other interests include Van Dyck and picture framing at the court of Charles I, and Lucian Freud and his materials as an artist.

Recent publications

‘John Singer Sargent and the Framing of his Pictures’, in Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925, Complete Paintings, vol.9, 2016. Two articles on curators and picture restoration: ‘Restoration practice in museums and galleries in Britain in the nineteenth century’, in A Changing Art: Nineteenth -Century Painting Practice and Conservation, Nicola Costaras et al., eds, 2017, pp.5-13; and ‘George Scharf and improving collection care and restoration at the National Portrait Gallery’, Journal of Art Historiography, no.18, 2018. Two articles on the trade in artists’ supplies between London and the wider world are in hand for publication in 2019.

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