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 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. Whilst some attention has already been given to the patterns of disposal of Old Master paintings at this time, starting with the high profile Hamilton Palace sales in 1882, my research will focus on the acquisition of Old Masters for British private collections during the first half of the twentieth century. The 6th Earl’s collecting habits challenge the conventional understanding that the traffic in Old Master paintings was exclusively one-way, from Britain to America, during this period. My research will also consider the 6th Earl’s support for the contemporary cultural life of Yorkshire, and examine the inherent tension in the support for contemporary art and its patronage and that of the art of the past through the increasing emphasis on cultural heritage.

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. During my time at the Ashmolean I have also completed an internship in the Department of Western Art with funding from OUCPD cataloguing impressions from the Iconographie series by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, assisted with the annual Hope Rare Book Conservation Project, and held the post of Interim Print Room Assistant. 

Research interests

  • History of Collecting
  • The British art market in the twentieth century
  • The agency of dealers in the formation of private and public collections
  • Old Master drawings and their collections
  • 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