Charles Saumarez Smith  


Sir Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, is a cultural historian and prominent figure in the British art and museum scene.  

He was born in 1954 in Salisbury and attended Marlborough College before attending King’s College Cambridge, where he received a double first in History and the History of Art in 1976. After a year in Harvard on a Henry Fellowship, Saumarez Smith returned to the UK to complete a PhD in Combined Historical Studies at the Warburg Institute in London. It was during this time that he was appointed Christie’s Research Fellow in the Applied Arts, and Director of Studies in the History of Art at Christ’s College between 1979 and 1982.

He was the director of the National Gallery from 2002 until 2007, having previously served as the director of the National Portrait Gallery (1994-2002) and Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1990-1994). As director of the National Gallery, one of his most notable achievements was the purchase of Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks in 2004 for £22 million.

Saumarez Smith was an elected an Honorary Fellow of Christ’s in 2002 and was awarded a CBE in 2008. He served as Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts in London from 2007 to 2018, and is now Senior Director of Blain Southern. He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2018.

Selected publications:

The Building of Castle Howard (1990)

Eighteenth-Century Decoration: Design and the Domestic Interior in

The National Portrait Gallery (1997)

The Rise of Design: Design and Domestic Interior in Eighteenth-century

The National Gallery: A Short History (2009)

The Company of Artists: The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in

New Annals of The Club (2014)