Letter: Boardroom portraits with humanity

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Graham-Dixon ('Posture and imposture', 20 October), in comparing Van Dyck's Venetia Stanley with Hogarth's Captain Coram, suggests that the modern boardroom portrait may represent the cul-de-sac, the last resting place, of the Hogarthian tradition of anti-theatrical portraiture.

Benedict Nicolson, in The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital, was less dismissive of Hogarth's great portrait.

He called it 'a milestone in the history of British portraiture, which looks back to Van Dyck and forward to Lawrence, and yet is an object more momentous than a mere stage on a journey. It marks a significant moment in British social life, when the genius of the rising middle class asserts itself with confidence and power.'

But the boardroom portrait has long since escaped from its cul- de-sac. Starting perhaps with June Mendoza's portrait of the Academic Committee of the London Business School in 1966, many boardroom portraits have now a warmth, a humanity - sometimes even a touch of the theatrical - which Van Dyck would assuredly welcome.

Yours faithfully,


London, NW3

20 October