In the second half of the Nineteenth Century, Vanity Fair was one of the most popular magazines in Great-Britain. It provided its readers with an overview of current affairs, but also with features that have since become standard for general magazines : columns, travel stories, serials and games.
From 1869 onwards, founder Thomas Gibson Bowles included a caricature of a prominent figure in the magazine, which became very popular. Artists like Carlo Pellegrini, Leslie Ward and Max Beerbohm created portraits that became continuously more cartoony, capturing the physical presence and personality of each subject.
The late Cecil Y. Lang, Professor of English at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1991, was an avid collector of these caricatures. In 2002 Lang donated his collection of 900 portraits to the University Library, which now has made this collection available online as part of its Digitization Services Collections.