By People Staff
March 05, 1984 12:00 PM

In the 17th century Oliver Cromwell is said to have warned his portrait artist, Sir Peter Lely, “not [to] flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.” Few subjects for PEOPLE have been as game. Their wishes, like most, have run more to flattery and disguise. But our best pictures serve as a special kind of window through which the humor, the bathos, the pathos, occasionally the beauty of a person at a given moment comes into focus. They show things words cannot tell. Since we began publishing, 46,000 photos have appeared in the magazine. On these pages are a few of our favorites. We hope the spirit of Cromwell approves.