Dr Emily Burns is a curator and art historian specialising in British art and collecting, with a particular interest in portraiture. She was an assistant curator at the National Portrait Gallery from 2013 to 2018, and is currently the Vivmar Curatorial Fellow at the National Gallery, London. Emily completed her doctoral thesis on art and collecting in England during the Civil War and Interregnum (c.1640–1660) at the University of Nottingham in 2018, and recently continued her research into mid-seventeenth century painting with a visiting scholarship at the Yale Center for British Art. She is also working towards publishing her research on the Painter-Stainers’ livery company of London in the Walpole Society Journal. As well as being a co-convenor of the Paul Mellon Centre's Early Career Researchers Network, Emily works on the Centre’s digital research project, Art & the Country House for which she has contributed essays and catalogue entries on Trewithen House, Raynham Hall, and Petworth House. Emily is an occasional tweeter at @17centurygirl.
Dr Thomas Hughes is an associate lecturer in the history of modern and contemporary art at the Courtauld Institute of Art and co-convenor of the Paul Mellon Centre's Early Career Researchers Network. In 2020 he will be a postdoctoral fellow at the PMC. Thomas is transforming his PhD thesis on continuities between John Ruskin and the art of the Aesthetic movement into a book titled Curious Beauty: John Ruskin, Walter Pater and Aestheticism and he is co-editing a volume of essays, Ruskin’s Ecologies, coming soon. He is particularly interested in nineteenth-century British art, art writing and aesthetics, and, more broadly, in art in Britain and France, modern conceptualisations of Ancient Greek and Italian Renaissance art, art writing and the theory of art history. He is also interested in questions to do with form, surface and depth and the place of the aesthetic in society. He is working collaboratively on a project exploring concepts of ‘realism’ in modern and contemporary art across the world.