The Ballroom at Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent. © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

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E. R. Hughes’ Portrait of Bell and Dorothy Freeman Acquired by the Geffrye Museum, by Emma Hardy

The Geffrye Museum of the Home has recently purchased a beautiful, large-scale watercolour portrait of two young sisters in a domestic interior by the late Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Robert Hughes. Today Hughes is best-known for his ‘blue’ paintings – a series of spectacular, highly finished watercolours on literary and mystical themes, featuring winged allegorical figures […]

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Revealing the Charterhouse, by Ellie Darton-Moore

In December I returned to the National Portrait Gallery, where I had worked for 3 years until last autumn, to attend the annual Understanding British Portraits conference. On the agenda was a talk by Ibby Lanfear, Paintings Conservator, which focused on a collection of 17th-century portraits here at the Charterhouse. It was a wonderful experience […]

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De László’s enchanting portrait of Lord Madeley (1914) purchased by the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, by Peter Boughton

The Grosvenor Museum’s greatest acquisition in 2015 was a portrait of Richard Crewe-Milnes, Earl of Madeley, the three-year-old son of the 1st Marquess of Crewe, painted in 1914 by Philip de László, one of the most celebrated portrait painters of his age. This masterly oil sketch exemplifies the artist’s painterly panache and retains its original […]

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A New Portrait for Bath: Thomas Lawrence’s sketch for Arthur Atherley by Amina Wright, Holburne Museum

Early in 2016, following a successful fundraising campaign, the Holburne Museum in Bath purchased Thomas Lawrence’s preparatory oil sketch for one of his most celebrated paintings, Arthur Atherley (left). This is the first oil painting by the great Royal Academician to enter the Holburne’s important collection of British eighteenth-century portraits. Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) lived […]

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A newly-discovered portrait of Joseph Leftwich by ‘Whitechapel Girl’ Clare Winsten, c.1919, by Sarah MacDougall, Ben Uri Gallery & Museum

My co-curator, Rachel Dickson, and I were delighted when, in the summer of 2015, just as we were preparing to celebrate Ben Uri’s centenary with a major collection exhibition, Out of Chaos, at Somerset House, this early oil by Clare Winsten (1892–1984) came to light. A portrait of one European Jewish émigré to London by […]

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‘…and amongst moneyed men he was looked up to as an oracle’.* Mr Coutts’s Chinese Wallpapers and the Art of Diplomacy, by Dr Laura Popoviciu

Standing outside Sir Frederick Gibberd’s modern atrium of Coutts & Co., gracefully incorporated into the Georgian building on the Strand and waiting to explore their portrait collection as part of a study day organised by the Understanding British Portraits network, I wondered about the Coutts’s taste as collectors. The semi-reflective glass façade would not give […]

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The power of portraits in context: A study day at Hardwick Hall by Liz Waring

I had been looking forward to the Understanding British Portraits Study Day at Hardwick Hall from the moment it was announced.  Since first encountering ‘Bess of Hardwick’ 12 years ago when I moved to the area I have become something of an enthusiast. Combined with my equally keen interest in 16th and 17th century portraiture, […]

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An insight to Bethlem through the lens of Henry Hering: a workshop, by Anna Sparham

I felt a strong draw to this workshop, ‘Henry Hering’s early asylum photography; the collection in context’. My interest was triggered by my familiarity with the photographs themselves, but it was the word ‘context’ in the title that hooked me. No, the word itself is not particularly arresting, but the prospect of gaining some knowledge […]

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