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Tanya Bentley

Tanya Bentley

Assistant Curator


Job description

I am the Exhibition Curator for the international touring exhibition Icons and Identities: Masterpieces of Portraiture. I work across the National Portrait Gallery’s collections, assisting period curators with collection research, exhibitions, displays and acquisitions, including contemporary commissions. I assist with changes to period hangs and curate temporary displays. I provide critical administrative support to the Curatorial Department and manage the Gallery research seminars. Recent displays and exhibitions that I have worked on include: David Hockney: Drawing from Life (2020), Luminary Drawings: Portraits of Film Directors by Nina Mae Fowler (2019),  Tacita Dean PORTRAIT (2018), One Unbroken Stream: Ingres to Auerbach (2018), Cézanne Portraits (see blog) (2017-18) and Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask (2017).


I studied a BA in History and French Studies at the University of Birmingham and completed the V&A and Royal College of Art MA in History of Design. Before joining the National Portrait Gallery’s curatorial team in September 2014, I completed a six-month internship at the Gallery as sixteenth-century curatorial intern. In this role, I supported the preparation of a collaborative exhibition on the Tudor monarchs, Les Tudors, with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. I have worked at various museums and arts institutions including the London Jewish Cultural Centre, Ben Uri Gallery & Museum, The Barber Institute of Fine Art and Yad Vashem Holocaust Art Museum in Jerusalem.

Research interests

In my role at the National Portrait Gallery I have specialised in 20th-century and contemporary British portraiture, in particular works on paper. One of my key areas of interest is how 20th century and now contemporary artists have embraced drawing as a principal mode of expression and push the boundaries of the graphic medium. My previous research considered early twentieth-century Jewish material culture in relation to histories of design, nationalism and identity.

Recent Publications

‘Artists as natural isolators’ and ‘art apart’ in Jewish Renaissance, July 2020

‘19th-Century Kabyle Fibulae’ in Jewellery History Today, Winter 2019 (Issue 34)

‘Biographies of Sitters’ with Sarah Howgate in Tacita Dean: Landscape, Portrait, Still Life (London: Royal Academy of Arts, National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery, 2018), pp.222-224

Polyphonies, ed. by Tanya Bentley et al. (London: V&A/RCA, 2017)

'Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing: Chronology' in Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask, ed. by Sarah Howgate (London: National Portrait Gallery, 2017), pp.188-199

Do, draw and make!

Do, draw and make!

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