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

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An audience with Dr William Hunter by Sarah Backhouse

In 1825, ‘Mrs Baillie’ bequeathed a remarkable conversation piece by Johan Zoffany to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). This painting represents the Scottish-born anatomist, surgeon and midwife Dr William Hunter giving an anatomy lecture to a group of individuals. Mrs Baillie was the wife of Dr Matthew Baillie, Hunter’s nephew and heir. While living […]

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The Portraits of Leon Underwood by Simon Martin

It is over forty-five years on since the last major museum retrospective of the work of Leon Underwood in 1969. Although Underwood (1890-1975) has been described as ‘the precursor of modern sculpture in Britain’ he is an overlooked figure in the history of Modern Art. Between the 1920s and 1950s he created an innovative body […]

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Following Burton’s footsteps by Chris Burton

On Thursday 22nd January, I travelled to the Heinz Archive along with a colleague, Euan, as part of our Understanding British Portraits project. The portrait in question is of Richard Francis Burton, the famous Victorian explorer, in disguise as Haji Abdullah on his expedition to Mecca in 1853. Our aim was to use the archives […]

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A Distracting Discovery by Demelza Williams

In February 2014, Sir Thomas Lawrence’s double portrait of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry and her son, Lord Seaham, was temporarily allocated through Acceptance In Lieu to Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland, by Arts Council England (left). It arrived along with a significant loan of other items from the Estate of the Marquess of Londonderry […]

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Discovering a Samuel Percy wax portrait in Northern Ireland by Anna Moore

Since receiving an Understanding British Portraits bursary, I have been undertaking research trips relating to my work on the eighteenth-century wax modeller, Samuel Percy. Born in Ireland in c.1750, Percy received his early artistic training at the Dublin Society school of art. As with many artists seeking a profitable career, he moved to London in […]

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Hidden potential at Coughton Court by Rebecca Farr

It’s time to confess: I know very little about portraits. I don’t have a degree in Art or History. My degree is in English, and my background is conservation, so I will apologise in advance if I appear easily pleased by the things I learnt when I attended my first Understanding British Portraits workshop! My […]

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The Mysteries of Funding Revealed, by Alex Patterson

‘How to succeed in Getting Grant Funding: Opportunities for Researchers’, a seminar organised by the V&A and the Understanding British Portraits network, left me feeling inspired, informed and motivated. The seminar kicked off with a series of talks from various funding bodies such as The British Academy, The Association of Art Historians (AAH), The Paul […]

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