Curator of Prints and Drawings
Robyn Asleson joined the National Portrait Gallery in 2016. As curator of the Prints and Drawings Department, she develops exhibitions, conducts research, and identifies new acquisitions, with a particular focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her current projects include “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939” (2021), “John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal” (2020), and “Portraits of the World,” a series of exhibitions featuring individual portraits on loan from international museums. She is also developing an exhibition of nineteenth-century American theatrical portraits.
Asleson’s projects reflect her longstanding interest in transatlantic crosscurrents in the history of American art, as well as the relationship between portraiture and the performing arts. Prior to joining the National Portrait Gallery, she served as editor and co-author of Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture (1776–1812) (2003) and A Passion for Performance: Sarah Siddons and Her Portraitists (1999). She was also curator of the exhibition “Cultivating Celebrity: Portraiture as Publicity in the Career of Sarah Siddons” at the Huntington (1999) and co-curator of “Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney” at the Yale Center for British Art (2001).
In 2016, Asleson co-organized the exhibition “The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art” at the Smithsonian’s Freer/Sackler Gallery. The exhibition built on Asleson’s many publications on the Aesthetic Movement in America and Britain, including a monograph on the influential English painter Albert Moore (2000).Her current projects include the exhibitions “Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939” and “Staging America: Theater and National Identity, 1812-1912.” She recently curated the spotlight exhibition series “Portraits of the World” featuring individual portraits on loan from international museums.