The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Men of the day: Caricatures from Vanity Fair

Anthony Trollope
by Sir Leslie Ward
study for drawing published in Vanity Fair 5 April 1873
NPG 3915

Past display archive
Until 31 August 2008

Room 28 case display


Complementing the exhibition Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913 - 2008, this display of original watercolour drawings celebrates the nineteenth-century forerunner of the modern magazine. From 1868 to 1913, the British weekly review, Vanity Fair, cast a satirical eye over contemporary society and politics. The most popular feature was a full-page colour caricature of a leading figure of the day. Over 2300 of these caricatures were published between 1869 and 1914. The watercolours in this display were commissioned by the magazine to be reproduced as colour prints.

The distinguished and international list of artists employed by Vanity Fair includes Carlo Pellegrini, Sir Leslie Ward, James Tissot and Baron Melchiorre Delfico. The trademark Vanity Fair style became an institution and shaped modern British caricature. To appear in Vanity Fair came to be seen as a public honour and a mark of distinction. These caricatures provide a unique, affectionately satirical chronicle of British Victorian and Edwardian society.

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique