Citizen Portrait


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Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales

Tarnya Cooper

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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.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in 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 the Fine Arts Category.
ISBN: 9780300162790
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
264 pages, 9 1/2 x 11 1/4
100 color + 115 b/w illus.