Citizen Portrait Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales Tarnya Cooper

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
Publication date:
04 Sep 2012
Yale University Press
240 pages: 270 x 220 x 23mm
40 colour images + 80 black-&-white illustrations

For much of early modern history, the opportunity to be immortalized in a portrait was explicitly tied to social class: only landed elite and royalty had the money and power to commission such an endeavor. But in the second half of the 16th century, access began to widen to the urban middle class, including merchants, lawyers, physicians, clergy, writers, and musicians. As portraiture proliferated in English cities and towns, the middle class gained social visibility-not just for themselves as individuals, but for their entire class or industry. In Citizen Portrait, Tarnya Cooper examines the patronage and production of portraits in Tudor and Jacobean England, focusing on the motivations of those who chose to be painted and the impact of the resulting images. Highlighting the opposing, yet common, themes of piety and self-promotion, Cooper has revealed a fresh area of interest for scholars of early modern British art.

Tarnya Cooper is chief curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

"A fascinating and scholarly analysis… The book is beautifully produced and packed with information. The men and few women who stare out at us from these pages have been well served."—Sheila Corr, History Today

"In bringing together and analysing such a wide range of previously unexplored material, Citizen Portrait is never less than interesting and thought-provoking. Moreover, no one can come away from doubting Cooper’s underlying premise: that the power to commission and display portraits in early modern England was by no means the exclusive preserve of the gentry, aristocracy and Crown."—Elizabeth Goldring, Burlington Magazine

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in theÿFine Arts Category.

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