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Constructing Corporate Identity before the Corporation: Fashioning the Face of the First English Joint Stock Banking Companies

The article considers how the first joint-stock banks established themselves as a new form of banking that would ultimately, by the end of the nineteenth century, dominate the domestic banking system in England and Wales. We undertake a new investigation of the portraits of senior bank staff. It adds to the literature focusing on corporate identity. Visual representations form part of a corporate identity, which in turn is linked to the building of a reputation. Jointstock banks, as new entrants and a new type of financial institution, faced fierce opposition. Portraiture, as a well-established art form, projected a historical legacy that did not, as yet, exist. Through portraiture, banks solidified and added to the sitter’s social standing and signalled the new institution’s reputation for high culture, power and professionalism to those viewing these works within a localised social hierarchy and business environment.

Published on 16th December 2014
Authors Professor Lucy Newton
Series Reference IBH-2014-06