Sir Nicholas Penny was the Director of the National Gallery from February 2008 to August 2015.
Nicholas Penny was previously Clore Curator of Renaissance Painting at the National Gallery between 1990 and 2000. He returned to Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery of Art in Washington where he was Senior Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts from 2002 to 2008. He was Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts from 2000 to 2002.
After obtaining a doctorate from the Courtauld Institute, he began his career as a lecturer in art history at the University of Manchester. His first museum position was that of Keeper of the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Nicholas Penny is the author of many books and articles on both painting and sculpture, and on the history of collecting and taste. His works include scholarly catalogues, introductory texts for the student and critical reviews for the general reader.