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NPG appoints a new Head of Photographs Collection

The National Portrait Gallery, London, has appointed Phillip Prodger (right), founding Curator of Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, as Head of Photographs Collection, from 1 June 2014. He has been at the Peabody since 2008. 

Prodger will lead the Gallery’s photographic exhibitions and displays programme and oversee the Gallery’s Collection of more than 250,000 photographs, which spans from the medium’s invention to the present day.

Terence Pepper OBE, Hon FRPS, formerly Curator of Photographs, has a new part-time role, starting January 2014, as the Gallery’s Senior Special Advisor on Photographs, and will be working on special projects with the Exhibitions team until early 2016. Pepper's change of role was reported by BPH in December 2013.

Phillip Prodger, Ph.D (Cantab.) FRSA, was curator of the National Portrait Gallery's acclaimed exhibition Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street in 2011, and Ansel Adams: From the Mountains to the Sea, which showed at the Royal Museums Greenwich in 2012. He is the author and editor of 17 books and catalogues, including Darwin's Camera, named one of the best art and architecture books of 2009 by the New York Times, and Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (2011). In 2013 he was the only curator in the United States to receive a Focus Award, given annually to those making a critical contribution to the promotion, curation, and presentation of photography.

Originally from Margate, Kent, Phillip Prodger has held appointments at the National Gallery of Canada, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. He received a Ph.D. in history of art from the University of Cambridge in 2005. Expert in late nineteenth/early twentieth-century art and photography, he has curated more than 30 exhibitions internationally, including at the Beijing Museum of World Art and the Berlinische Galerie in Germany.

Terence Pepper’s exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery include those on Howard Coster (1985) and James Abbe (1995), Angus McBean Portraits (2006), Vanity Fair: Portraits (2008), (co-curated with David Friend and winner of the Lucie Award for Exhibition of the Year), Beatles to Bowie: the 60s Exposed (2009) and Man Ray: Portraits (2013- 2014) which toured to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (where it was nominated for a Lucie Award) and The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Pepper joined the National Portrait Gallery as Librarian in October 1975. In 1978, having become Curator of Photographs, he curated and published his first National Portrait Gallery catalogue to mark the centenary of E. O. Hoppé in Camera Portraits by E. O. Hoppé. (He recently co-authored with Prodger the 2011 Hoppé Portraits Catalogue). In 1981 Pepper curated his first major exhibition, Norman Parkinson: 50 Years of Portraits and Fashion.

In 1988 the exhibitions Helmut Newton Portraits and Alice Springs Portraits were followed by research for the first monograph on Lewis Morley: Photographer of the Sixties (1989). A major book written with John Kobal on the MGM photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull: The Man Who Shot Garbo became the template for a further series of successful exhibitions based on the same formula including Horst: Portraits (2001), and Beaton: Portraits (2004). Pepper’s interest in Edwardian photography resulted in High Society: Photographs 1897-1914 and Edwardian Women Photographers. His most visited exhibition, co-curated with Philip Hoare, was Icons of Pop (1999) while his interest in contemporary photographs saw the establishment of the Gallery’s annual Photographic Portrait Prize.

Dr Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Terence Pepper has made a remarkable contribution to the Gallery over many decades and has been responsible for a considerable number of important and critically acclaimed exhibitions. During his long period at the Gallery he has also been absolutely instrumental in building our truly outstanding collection of portrait photographs. We are delighted that he will remain at the Gallery in order to continue to share his considerable knowledge and expertise’.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘I am very pleased that Phillip Prodger will join the team at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and will be able to lead our important work in photographic portraits, building on the achievements of Terence Pepper in the development of the Collection and in creating outstanding loan exhibitions.’

In the interim period from 1st January to 31st May 2014 the photographs team will be led by the Gallery’s Twentieth Century Curator, Paul Moorhouse.

Additional reporting: Michael Pritchard

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Comment by clark worswick on January 16, 2014 at 16:05

Phillip wrote me a very kind letter explaining the vagaries of the Peabody Essex PR department that made this claim.  All explained and many thanks to him and to you Dr. Pritchard.  

My best to you all,


Comment by Michael Pritchard on January 16, 2014 at 5:33

The claim was made in the press release from the NPG. 

Comment by clark worswick on January 15, 2014 at 21:24

As I recall in 2000 I was the first photography curator at the Peabody Essex Museum, as the consulting curator of the photography department. 

I raised the money for the first projects of the department, and I did the first exhibits of the department during my four year tenure. 

Mr. Prodger's claim to be the Founding Curator  of the Photography Department at the Peabody Essex is very strange, as he references this title in his resume. 

My best to you all, and to Dr. Pritchard with his wonderful work.

Clark Worswick

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