Lucy West


"A Great Commerce in Curious Paintings"

I am an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD researcher working in collaboration with the University of Leeds, The National Gallery and The Bowes Museum on a project which interrogates the roles and practices of art dealers and agents in the reception and re-evaluation of pre-1500 European Painting in Britain, in the first half of the nineteenth century. In a context in which such 'ancient' paintings were often described pejoratively as 'primitive' or 'curious', my research seeks to consider both the individuals and the criteria at the heart of bringing such paintings into British private and public collections, as well as interrogating the wider enabling structures and mechanisms of the art market, and the broader cultural significance and legacy of the dealers within these developments. While emphasis is frequently placed on the collector, keeper or museum director within collecting narratives, my research will explore the agency of the dealer, a figure who may often be found to be historically maligned or under-represented. The acquisitions made by John and Josephine Bowes, and those of The National Gallery, in this arena, will form key case studies within my research.

Before commencing my PhD in October 2018, I was Assistant Curator of Paintings at Royal Collection Trust where I was particularly interested in the acquisitions of early European paintings made by Prince Albert and his art advisor, Ludwig Grüner. Prior to this, as The National Gallery Curatorial Trainee (2015-7), based at The National Gallery and The Ferens Art Gallery (Hull), I curated the exhibition Pietro Lorenzetti: Siena to Hull, A Masterpiece Revealed at the Ferens, one output of my wider research and interpretation project around the Ferens' rich Old Master paintings collection. Previously, I was Curatorial Assistant and Programming Officer at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Warwickshire. 

Research interests

  • History of Collecting, History of Taste; 
  • Italian painting and sculpture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, notably early Italian panel painting;
  • The art market and the dealer; 
  • The history of the art museum, the formation of public and private collections in the nineteenth century, and how these legacies might be addressed in today's museums;
  • The development of Art History as a discipline in the nineteenth century.


  • MA in History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art [The Arts of Florence and Central Italy 1400-1500]
  • BA in History of Art, University of Warwick.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market