University welcomes National Portrait Gallery’s Chief Curator for public lecture

Dr Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery, London, will give a free public lecture at Swansea University on Thursday, March 21, entitled “Meeting the Elizabethans: portraiture, spiritual identities and the middling sort”.

Tarnya CooperThe hour-long lecture, which begins at 6pm in the University’s Wallace Lecture Theatre and is open to all, will reveal how portraiture can give us an insight into the mindset and cultural taste of the middling classes in Elizabethan England and Wales.

The lecture will look at portraits of merchants, retailers, professionals, writers and artists in the Elizabethan period and it will focus on examples of Welsh and English sitters, asking what portraits can tell us about social status and spiritual identities in the post-Reformation period.

The event is this year’s Welsh Annual Lecture of the Society for Renaissance Studies – the main academic organisation in Britain providing an interdisciplinary forum for people interested in all aspects of the Renaissance – and is supported by Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH).

Dr Tarnya Cooper has worked with the National Portrait Gallery for more than 10 years and oversees the work of the curatorial department, archive and library.

Her main area of expertise is the Tudor period, and she is currently managing a seven-year project, entitled Making Art in Tudor Britain, which explores the production, influences, and patronage of Tudor and Jacobean portraiture.

This lecture at Swansea University draws on Dr Cooper’s cutting-edge research, which has recently been published in a Yale University Press monograph, entitled ‘Citizen Portrait: portrait painting and the urban elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales’ (YUP, 2012).

Dr Regina Pörtner, Senior Lecturer in History at Swansea University’s College of Arts and Humanities, said: “The Welsh Annual Lectures have been inaugurated in 2012 to celebrate Renaissance research in Wales, and to bring leading experts from further afield to our institutions.  Hosting this year’s public lecture forms part of RIAH's mission to contribute to Welsh culture and the community’s engagement with the Arts and Humanities.

“Dr Tarnya Cooper is a leading authority on the subject of Tudor painting, and is in the process of preparing a major exhibition on 'Elizabeth I and her People', scheduled to take place at the National Gallery from this October.

“I am delighted that Swansea's academic community and the wider public will have the opportunity to hear about Dr Cooper’s exciting research on Elizabethan art, and get, as it were, a preview of this autumn’s London event.”

The lecture, to be given by Dr Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery, will take place on Thursday, March 21, starting at 6pm. Light refreshments will be available from 5.15pm. 

The lecture will be held in the Wallace Lecture Theatre, Wallace Building, Swansea University. Admission is free and all are welcome.

For enquiries and further information please

 For more information on the following visit: