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

Herbert Morrison: The Cockney Socialist

Past display archive
26 July 2011 - 18 March 2012

Room 31 case display

Free

This display explores the portrait imagery associated with Herbert Morrison (1888-1965), one of the key political figures of the mid-twentieth century, who helped engineer the emergence of the Labour Party as a leading parliamentary force. Taking as its theme the idea that Morrison’s political character was defined by his reputation as an archetypal Londoner, the display looks at how his public profile and political persona were similarly shaped by his cockney identity.

Comprised of rarely seen caricatures and portrait drawings, the display features the work of celebrated artists such as Sir David Low (Morrison’s favourite caricaturist), Ronald Searle, Bernard Partridge, Henryk Gotlib and Juliet Pannett. It also includes photographs by Yousuf Karsh, Howard Coster, Bassano, and Harold Tomlin, the press photographer for the Daily Herald. Chronologically charting the media representation of this ardent socialist, known for his love of London, it highlights his evolving public image. Morrison was popularly proclaimed the natural leader of the Labour Party and likely Prime Minister, but never quite fulfilled his potential, despite a long and illustrious career as a pioneering Labour politician.

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Watch

Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story