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About the role

The post of Director was established in 1855, 31 years after the Gallery was founded. The duties of the Director included selecting pictures for the collection and managing their arrangement, description and conservation. The role was strategic from the beginning.

The current responsibilities of the Director are outlined in the Trustees Handbook:

"The Director is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Gallery, for the safe-keeping and enhancement of the collection, and for taking the lead on the main financial (as Accounting Officer) and strategic decisions.

"The Director has responsibility, under the Board, for the overall organisation, management, and staffing of the Gallery and for its procedures in financial and other matters, including conduct and discipline."

Directors of the Gallery (1855 – present)

  • Sir Charles Lock Eastlake PRA (1793–1865)
    Served: 1855–1865 (10 years, died in post)
    Officially appointed 2 July 1855, died in post on 24 December 1865
  • Sir William Boxall RA (1800–1879)
    Served: 1866–1874 (8 years)
    Officially appointed 13 February 1866, resigned shortly before end of second term in office
  • Sir Frederic William Burton RHA (1816–1900)
    Served: 1874–1894 (20 years)
    Officially appointed 20 February 1874, resigned March 1894
  • Sir Edward John Poynter Bt PRA (1836–1919)
    Served: 1894–1904 (10 years)
    Officially appointed April 1894

Poynter's third term of office expired on 31 December 1904. A new Director was not appointed until 11 June 1906. In the intervening 18 months, three of the Trustees were made acting Directors