Portrait of Oliver Cromwell, c.1655
Samuel Cooper painted this portrait of Oliver Cromwell.
Cooper painted many famous people and made several portraits of Cromwell. This little watercolour painting (called a miniature) measures 6 cm x 4.8 cm.
Rulers often used portraits of themselves as a form of propaganda.
Propaganda is information (in words or pictures) that promotes some cause or viewpoint. For example, kings and queens had beautiful paintings done of them, dressed in wonderful clothes, showing their jewels or horses, with their most important courtiers surrounding them. The purpose of these pictures was to make the monarch appear strong, wise, rich, powerful and beautiful (even if they weren’t)!
Cromwell had a reputation for being uninterested in decoration and portraits used as propaganda.
One story says that he was content to be painted, as he looked, ‘warts and all’. This may be where the saying ‘warts and all’ comes from. It means telling something exactly as it is and not changing any details.