STIP: Doctoral Partnership Grant ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery’ (National Gallery London & University of Durham)

The National Gallery and the University of Durham are pleased to announce a fully-funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship from 1 October 2020 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. The project ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery (c.1830-1945)’ will provide an opportunity to research a fascinating chapter in Jewish history and the history of collecting and allow the student to receive supervision and training across two outstanding institutions.

Application deadline: 8 June 2020
Start date: 1 October 2020

The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (Senior Research Curator, National Gallery) and Dr Tom Stammers (Associate Professor of Modern European History, University of Durham). The project also feeds into a major AHRC-funded project “Jewish” Country Houses: Objects, Networks, People, and so the student will also benefit from supervision by Dr Silvia Davoli (University of Oxford/ Strawberry Hill Trust). For more on the Jewish Country Houses project, see: The student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Durham and the National Gallery and become an active member of both academic and research communities, as well as belonging to the wider cohort of CDP students across the UK.

Project Overview:
This project interrogates the Jewish contribution to the making of the National Gallery. Despite the importance of many Jewish collectors associated with the Gallery – including Alfred de Rothschild, Ludwig Mond, Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted – these men and women have never been studied as a group in relation to the growth of the institution. Focusing on the period from the foundation of the National Gallery (1824) to the end of the Second World (1945), this project will investigate the role of Jewish donors, dealers and trustees in constructing the collections and in administering the institution. The project will consider what, if anything, was distinctive about Jewish taste in painting, and uncover the motivations behind acts of philanthropy on the part of this cultural minority. It will reconstruct the Jewish presence within networks of kinship, business and sociability that sustained the National Gallery in an era of dramatic expansion yet economic hardship and analyse the dynamics which resulted in paintings owned by eminent Jewish collectors entering the public domain in the era before the Holocaust. Although centred on the holdings of the National Gallery, this interdisciplinary doctoral project will reveal links with other houses and museums in Britain and beyond, and put to work methodologies derived from art history, social and cultural history, the history of collecting and the history of the art market. In addition to its historic interest, the project fits with a contemporary desire for museums to be more reflexive about their origins and to discover the diverse histories they contain and can narrate. In this way, the project fits with contemporary agendas at the Gallery as it moves towards the bicentenary of its foundation in 2024.

Among the central questions for this doctoral research project are:
– What does the development of the National Gallery and its collections reveal about Jewish cultural philanthropy in the period, c.1830-1945? How does the donation of paintings compare with other types of gift?- How did the intensity of Jewish involvement with the National Gallery vary over this period? How did the Jewish participation compare with that of other groups? Did gender, social status, age or national background influence how collectors engaged with the Gallery?- What contribution did Jewish trustees make to the direction and management of the National Gallery in the hundred years of its existence?- How significant was the contribution of Jewish dealers to the formation of the National Gallery collections? How far did Jewish dealers and collectors mobilise wider European relationships and cultural trends?- Why has this Jewish contribution been obscured within institutional memory? How should that be rectified?

Whilst a registered member of the Durham history department, the student will also use the facilities of the National Gallery’s Research Centre, including its library and archive. This prime archival material will be supplemented by related sources from the institutional archives such as those at Tate and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, as well as collections of private papers and properties now managed by the National Trust.

Details of Award:
CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.      

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home/EU UKRI rate for PhD degrees. Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407.The award pays full maintenance for UK citizens and residents only. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285, plus a CDP maintenance payment of £600/year, and an allowance of £1000/year.

Further details can be found on the UKRI website:

The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of the National Gallery, in addition to other sources of funding available at the University of Durham.The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.
Eligibility:- This studentship is open to UK/EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the UKRI Conditions of Research Council Training Grants:

We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply.- Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include modern cultural history, art history, Jewish history, provenance research, art market studies, heritage or museum studies. Proficiency in a European language other than English is desirable.- Applicants should demonstrate a passion for the museum sector, and a willingness for their research to help inform future National Gallery catalogues and exhibitions. They should be keen to take part in and help organise workshops and conferences around the subject.- As a collaborative award, students should be prepared to spend time at both the University and the National Gallery.

How to Apply:
Applications should take the form of a two-page CV, a cover letter outlining reasons for applying, and a short writing sample (up to 2,000 words). These materials are to be submitted before the closing date of 8 June 2020. For further information, please contact: Dr Tom Stammers (

Application deadline: 8 June 2020
Start date: 1 October 2020