This book examines the role of political likenesses in a half-century that was crucial for the political modernisation of Britain, a two-party system that began to take shape and politicians became increasingly accountable and responsive to public opinion. Political language, especially electoral rhetoric, has been accorded considerable weight by recent studies in building broad coalitions of political support in popular and electoral politics. The book studies political likenesses, the key mode of visual politics at this time, as part of a nuanced analysis of contemporary political culture and the nature of the representative system. It examines a diverse range of material including woven silk portraiture, oil paintings, numismatics and medals, banners, ceramics, statuary and memorials as well as items printed on paper or card. After an analysis of the visual culture spawned by the reform bills of 1831-1832, the book shows how Conservative and Liberal/Reformer identities were visualised through semi-official series of portrait prints. The pictorial press, photographs and portrait testimonials, statues and memorials, MPs were venerated as independent representatives and champions of particular localities, trades, interests or issues, and not party hacks. Depictions of Lord Palmerston and his rivals, including Lord John Russell and Lord Derby, in the 1850s and 1860s often underplayed in pictorial representations to emphasise physical and political vigour. The role of political portraits and cartoons in the decade after the passing of the 1867 Representation of the People Act is also discussed.
upon the very features of the orators’ who shaped the fortunes of
the nation and empire.74 Throughout this period advertisements for politicalportraits were at pains to emphasise that they were ‘most striking’, ‘accurate’ or
‘correct’ likenesses. At one level this was marketing puff, but it also provided
necessary reassurance that such portraits truly represented the likeness and
character of these political figures. Even in the 1880s, when Gladstone’s
hotographic image was
emphasised his physical and political
vigour. The example of Palmerston underlines the fact that politicalportraits
could be resonant because of what they represented, even though they might
lack realism or accuracy as likenesses. Furthermore, the chapter demonstrates
how Palmerston’s favourable image was strengthened through comparisons
with his political rivals in the period between 1850 and his death in 1865.
While these politicians were flattered or portrayed favourably in conventional
portraits, cartoons could be more critical and helped to reinforce and encapsulate
likenesses of the merry monarch’s mistresses.30
H.T. Ryall’s Portraits of Eminent Conservative Statesmen, 1836–46
The publication of politicalportrait series in the late 1830s was an ambitious
attempt to capitalise commercially on the growth of partisanship. The spread
of local party associations across the country created a market for likenesses
of leading party politicians. Portraits were already a common decoration at Conservative party meetings and dinners, which usually took place
after elections or during the parliamentary recess, which in this period was
Milton, Harrington and the Williamite monarchy, 1698–1714
the Letter to the author of the memorial of the state
of England’ Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 50 (1977) pp. 253–259; Toland’s
correspondence with Raulins is in Collections 2, pp. 433–436, 441–445.
30 See Jacob Newtonians p. 221.
31 Collections 2 p. 348.
32 See W. Sasche Lord Somers: a politicalportrait (Manchester, 1975).
33 Memoirs of Holles pp. v, xii.
34 See G. de Krey A fractured society: the politics of London in the first age of party 1688–1715
35 See Jacob Newtonians p. 221; Worden Ludlow p. 42.
36 Collections 2 pp. 318
antislavery strategy, particularly the use of force to suppress the slave trade. The
picture, unlike many group politicalportraits, included women and a number
of black Britons. But a closer study of the context reveals that the picture also
reflected gender and racial assumptions within the anti-slavery movement.133
For example, the BFASS’s insistence that female activists be excluded from the
floor of the convention was vigorously objected to by many of the American
delegates. It was entirely appropriate, therefore, that Haydon’s painting relegated
women to the margins
Both the exhibition of politicalportraits at the Royal Academy and the
subsequent publication of prints could be traced back to the late eighteenth
century. What was more novel about this period was the development of wood
engraving and serial publications: these allowed more topical, current images
to be circulated in greater quantities to larger audiences. The Illustrated London
News (ILN) was crucial in promoting more dynamic imagery and shifting the
political likeness away from the more static, iconic portraits associated with
steel-engraved prints. Between 1842
retour du politique (the return of the
political) in contemporary French cinema are agreed that there is now an
identifiable body of films which provide a ‘striking “political”
portrait of a morally, humanly and economically disintegrating France’ 42 ( Prédal 2002 : 125). However, there has been no return to the overtly
political filmmaking styles and messages of the 1970s. And the perceived failure
of traditional political institutions and practices has left a void which, for
and Politics of Civil-Military
Relations (Cambridge, MA & London: The Belknap Press
of Harvard University Press, 1957), p. 12.
Morris Janowitz, The Professional
Soldier: A Social and PoliticalPortrait (New York: The
Free Press, 1960), p. 15