Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme

A consortium of the National Gallery and the Bowes Museum has been awarded nine doctoral studentships over the next three years (three per year) as part of the the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. Each institution is able to offer studentships in partnership with higher education institutions, to enable students to study for a PhD at a UK university.

The National Gallery and the Bowes Museum have substantial synergies in their research interests, which arise not only from the fact that they both hold significant collections of Old Master paintings, but also from shared interests in the research themes:

  • Buying, Collecting, Display: This strand concentrates on the histories of the art market, as well as of picture collections and the tastes, economics, and politics that lay behind them. It also concerns audiences for art (including museum visitors today) and the histories of the institutions themselves. It provides a context for collections that supports new approaches for presentation to the public.
  • The Meaning of Making: This strand seeks to use object-based research, combining the disciplines of art history, science and conservation, to contextualise technical study of collections by situating it within a larger art historical discourse, investigating notions of authorship, collaboration, copying, design, inspiration and their re-use/reinterpretation over time. It is a distinctive aspect of Museum/Gallery research.
  • Art and Religion: This strand focuses on the iconography, functions and context of Christian art. A high percentage of works in collections of Western European art are of religious subjects, nearly all of them Christian, reflecting the fact that, after classical antiquity, Christianity became the predominant power shaping European culture between the 13th and 19th centuries. The research addresses how and why these sacred works of art were made, to explore what they might have meant to their original viewers and to discover what they mean to beholders today.

The consortium builds on these common interests that are shared between the National Gallery and the Bowes Museum, as well as more generally in many museums, galleries and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). For the National Gallery, the consortium is also an important element in the Gallery’s national strategy

The specific themes above are not intended to be prescriptive but they serve as an effective expression of the consortium’s areas of interest, giving a framework for collaborations with HEIs and other research organisations, and for potential shared studentships. For more general information, find out about the scope of research at the National Gallery and the Bowes Museum.

Each studentship will be jointly supervised by a member of the consortium partner’s staff and an academic from an HEI in the UK, as with the existing Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDA) scheme. The HEI administers the studentship, receiving funds from the AHRC for fees and to cover the student’s maintenance. The consortium partner provides additional financial support to cover travel and related costs in carrying out research.

More information about Collaborative Doctoral Awards is available on the AHRC website.

Further details

Information for universities

Proposals for new studentships are developed by National Gallery or Bowes Museum staff (as co-supervisors) together with a named university partner (as principal supervisor) and are chosen on their academic strengths and clear support for the National Gallery’s or the Bowes Museum’s research objectives. We welcome expressions of interest and project ideas from any UK university. The deadline for applications for the next round of projects will be late 2017.

For more information about partnering with the National Gallery, advice on potential internal collaborators and guidance for applications contact Marika Spring,

For more information about partnering with the Bowes Museum, advice on potential internal collaborators and guidance for applications contact

Information for students

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship: 

The National Gallery, London and the Warburg Institute, University of London

The Workshop and its Painters: Perugino and the Perugineschi in Florence and Perugia
Applications are invited for a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship, to be undertaken at the Warburg Institute (University of London) and the National Gallery (based in the Curatorial Department). This three-year (full-time) studentship commences on 1 October 2017 and will be jointly supervised by Professor Michelle O’Malley (Warburg Institute) and Dr Matthias Wivel (National Gallery). The student will spend the majority of their time at the National Gallery in the first year, undertaking field work in Perugia and Florence in the second year before spending their final year based at the Warburg Institute.

Summary of project
Pietro Perugino (living 1469; died 1523) was the most successful Italian painter of the end of the 15th century. He enjoyed great international success, and his 'sweet style' was universally praised. Yet by his death his work was already considered outdated and he became a relative nonentity, primarily remembered for teaching Raphael. He remains the only 15th-century Italian painter known to have operated two workshops in different cities. While both are documented, Perugino's rental of spaces in Florence from 1487 to 1511 and in Perugia from 1501 to 1513 complicates matters in regard to how he deployed assistants, in a career that ranged from Venice to Naples and Rome to Fano.

The project's overall aim is to improve understanding of the management and operation of painting workshops in Renaissance Italy. The project will draw on the case study of Pietro Perugino to challenge our understanding of the numerous serial and derivative paintings produced within the workshops of Florentine masters in the late-15th and early-16th century. The research will investigate how Perugino managed production and used – and famously reused – material in two workshops, as well as how individual works were made by numerous assistants at different levels of expertise. The innovation of the research lies in its investigation of Perugino's two workshops, never properly analysed previously.

In addition to the thesis, academic outcomes will include scholarly articles, a possible monograph, participation in (inter)national scholarly conferences and workshops, as well as the Warburg’s Work in Progress seminars and research events at the National Gallery and the Warburg.

Both partner organisations and the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partner consortium will provide opportunities for training and career development.

This Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship is funded by the AHRC. The full studentship award for students with UK residency* includes fees and a stipend of £14,553 per annum plus £550 per annum additional stipend payment for Collaborative Doctoral students for 3 years. In addition, the Student Development Fund (equivalent to 0.5 years of stipend payments) is also available to support the cost of training, work placements, and other development opportunities. Students with EU residency are eligible for a fees-only studentship award. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship. The National Gallery will provide up to £1000 a year to cover travel and other costs the student incurs travelling to carry out research at the Gallery and other locations.

*UK residency means having settled status in the UK that is no restriction on how long you can stay in the UK; and having been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship that is you must have been normally residing in the UK apart from temporary or occasional absences; and not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purposes of full-time education.

Applicants must have a good first degree (usually a minimum 2:1) or a Masters degree (or equivalent experience) in art history. They should be highly motivated individuals with a keen interest in art history, particularly Italian Renaissance painting. Students must also meet eligibility requirements of the Art and Humanities Research Council for graduate students. The minimum English language proficiency requirement for candidates who have not undertaken a higher degree at a UK HE institution is IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in all skills).

The closing date for applications is 12 noon (BST) on 20 June 2017.
Interviews will take place on 13 July 2017.

Further Information and application
For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Michelle O’Malley ( or Marika Spring (

Application is by covering letter, a 500-word description of the strand the student might take through the project, as well as a CV of no more than two pages and a transcript of his or her most recent degree (BA or MA). Applications should be sent to Megan Littlewood ( and copied to Catherine Higgitt (