Situating a reading of Henry Angelo and the English “love of portraiture” between an anxiety about monuments and history on one side and an anxiety about money and fiction on the other, this essay argues for an appreciation of Angelo's Reminiscences that moves past individual anecdotes to larger concerns about English self-representation and the political authority that it alternately appeased and resisted. Specifically, the essay will follow Angelo from an anecdote he tells about George III at a Royal Academy exhibition, through an account of the constitutional crisis of 1783–84, to an explication of several representative caricatures from the famous Westminster election. It focuses on Charles Fox and the ways in which his portraits in particular channel the cultural instabilities of the moment. My purpose is to tease out the nuances with which Angelo treats the interconnections between high and low portraiture in the 1780s in order to highlight the difference between the ways in which monumental portraits occupied public space and political caricatures moved through it. Monuments of all kinds—even of the most mobile variety, busts—were designed to anchor the space in which they were displayed, their immobility implying permanence. Caricatures, on the other hand, moved quickly through urban spaces, temporarily saturating shops, pubs, and coffeehouses before being replaced by their own newest versions. Although scholars of the portrait have been particularly sensitive in recent years to the complexities of exhibition space, this essay extends that discussion out from walls of Somerset House to the streets of Westminster as it refigures the homologies of monumental art and the differentials of caricature in terms of the political authority to which they referred and the monetary systems within which they were embedded.
Bradford Mudge; “Like as My Profile”: Of Monuments, Money, and Political Caricature in Spring 1784. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 September 2011; 35 (3): 29–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-1336790
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