Gemma Plumpton

Gemma Plumpton


I am an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD researcher with the University of Leeds and The National Gallery. My research project focuses on the collection of continental Old Masters at Harewood House, Yorkshire, which was formed during and after WWI by Henry Viscount Lascelles, later the 6th Earl of Harewood. At a time when many country-house owners were disposing of individual masterpieces or their whole art collections, the 6th Earl’s extensive purchases of primarily Italian Old Masters, first for Chesterfield House, London, and later for Harewood House, is highly distinctive. Much scholarly attention has already been given to the patterns of disposal of Old Master paintings from British aristocratic collections from the 1880s onwards. My research contributes to this body of research by challenging the dominant narrative that the flow of Old Masters was exclusively one way during this period, from Britain to America. Dominent themes within my research are contemporary ideas around aristocratic cultural heritage, particularly as this overlaps with national heritage, as well as class and the ways in which the aristocracy sought to maintain its position in a changing society.

During my PhD, with support from the AHRC CDP Student Development Fund, I will be undertaking a total of six months’ work placement in the Collections Team at Harewood House. Before commencing my PhD in October 2019 I worked for several years at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, most recently as the Admin Assistant for the Andrew W. Mellon-funded University Engagement Programme.

Research interests

  • History of collecting, particularly of continental old master paintings and drawings
  • The British art market in the twentieth century
  • The agency of dealers in the formation of private and public collections
  • The British aristocracy during the twentieth century
  • Cultural relations between Britain and America during the late-nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century


  • MA in the Art Market and History of Collecting, University of Buckingham
  • BA Art History and Heritage Management, University of Buckingham