Politics personified

Portraiture, caricature and visual culture in Britain, c.1830-80

By Henry Miller

Politics personified


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1170-8
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: May 2016
  • BIC Category: Art History, History of art, 19th century, c 1800 to c 1899, ART / History / General, The arts / History of art & design styles: c 1800 to c 1900


The remarkable popularity of political likenesses in the Victorian period is the central theme of this book, which explores how politicians and publishers exploited new visual technology to appeal to a broad public. The first study of the role of commercial imagery in nineteenth-century politics, Politics personified shows how visual images projected a favourable public image of politics and politicians. Drawing on a vast and diverse range of sources, this book highlights how and why politics was visualised.

Beginning with an examination of the visual culture of reform, the book goes on to study how Liberals, Conservatives and Radicals used portraiture to connect with supporters, the role of group portraiture, and representations of Victorian MPs. The final part of the book examines how major politicians, including Palmerston, Gladstone and Disraeli, interacted with mass commercial imagery.

The book will appeal to a broad range of scholars and students across political, social and cultural history, art history and visual studies, cultural and media studies and literature.


'In illuminating a path through the visual politics of this period, the book offers a useful bridge between art-historical and historical studies on this period. It is to be warmly welcomed and recommended.'
Richard A. Gaunt, University of Nottingham, The Journal of the historical association

'Miller has produced a scholarly, readable and accomplished book which effectively maps out virtually the whole terrain of political imagery from out-of doors radical and constituency politics, to the houses of parliament and Number 10. It will be widely read by all students of Victorian culture, political or otherwise, and doubtless remain the standard work on the subject for some time to come.'
Simon Morgan, Leeds Beckett University, The Parliamentary History 2017


1. The visual culture of reform, 1830-32
2. Party politics and portraiture, 1832-46
3. Radical visual culture: from caricature to portraiture
4. Reforming pantheons: political group portraiture and history painting
5. Representing the representatives: MPs and portraiture
6. Palmerston and his rivals
7. Disraeli, Gladstone and the personification of party, 1868-80
Select bibliography


Henry Miller is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century British History at the University of Manchester

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