Enquiries and orders: enquiries@wigsonthegreen.co.uk
Images can be enlarged by clicking on them
|| Next Page


Item Ref. 4867

MISS MARY LIGHTFOOT active 1786

This is an interesting pair of eighteenth century profiles painted by a young lady whose career as a silhouette artist was illustrious but short-lived. The silhouettes portray two young Scottish sisters, Janet and Anne Ramsay from Barnton near Edinburgh. Janet is shown with mid-length hair and is wearing a dress decorated with small ribbon bows on the corsage and shoulder. The profile of Anne is more finely painted with greater detail including an eyelash. Her long hair is attractively arranged in a long plait decorated with ribbon bows and she has a delicate frill on her corsage.

Both silhouettes are painted on plaster, one surface having been more smoothly prepared than the other. They are housed in the original matching brass-faced frames. One frame - that housing Janet - is backed with the artist's unbroken trade label.

Unbroken trade label on the reverse of Janet Ramsay

The silhouettes are in good overall condition. There is a short crack on the underside of the glass (just about at 12 o'clock) covering Anne and dust under the glass of the other one.

Size: framed, 4¾ x 3¾" (120 x 98mm)

Price: £750

It was an eight-month stay by John Miers in 1785 at her mother’s house in Liverpool that prompted Mary Lightfoot to paint silhouettes in a similar style. She travelled to Glasgow and Edinburgh where she apparently exhibited some of Miers’ work as her own prompting Miers to take out an advertisement to publicise the scam and to denounce her work.

Rare silhouette by Miss Mary Lightfoot

Rare silhouette by Miss Mary Lightfoot


Painted silhouette converstaion piece of an unknown family

Painted silhouette converstaion piece of an unknown family

One of the daughters holding the family pet dog

Item Ref. 4862

BRITISH SCHOOL, circa 1840

Silhouette conversation pieces are always special and this one is certainly no exception. It depicts a mother with her seven children gathered around her. The father is not present - perhaps he was off on a military campaign or away on business. Left to right the family comprises: the eldest daughter, looking sophisticated with her hair swept back in a plaited knot with long side ringlets, is holding the musical score for her little brother who, wearing a tunic, white pantaloons and heeled boots, is perching on an upholstered stool and is playing the violin; overlooking him is another teenage daughter, her hair looped and swept back, she holds a very cute little dog under her arm; behind her are two younger girls in matching dresses both reaching out towards the baby with bare feet being nursed by the mother as she sits comfortably in a bergere armchair; and finally, the eldest boy standing protectively behind his mother's chair with a walking cane in his hand.

The silhouette is painted on card with gum arabic used to highlight the details of the clothes and gilding for the gold jewellery and for everyone's hair, including that of the dog. The dress collars and frills are delicately painted in transparent white.

The unpainted area has some age-browning (though it's not as intrusive as the top images suggests) with some scattered spotting. The right hand edge of the paper is slightly wrinkled along the frame edge. Overall though the piece is in good condition. It is housed in the original flat profile birds' eye maple veneer frame.

Size: framed, 21 x 25¾" (535 x 642mm)

Price: £1,800

Mother nursing her youngest baby


Item Ref. 4972

CHARLES ROSENBERG (1745-1844)

This is a bust-length silhouette on glass depicting a mature lady wearing a buffon and a striking soft-crowned hat trimmed front and back with ribbon bows.

The silhouette is reverse painted on a rectangular piece of flat glass and has Rosenberg's typical bust-line. It is set off by a surround painted in gold and black and is unusual in that it is backed with blue chalk-surfaced paper as opposed to the more commonly found pink paper.

The silhouette is set in a period giltwood frame that could well be original to the piece. It is backed with Mr Rosenberg's trade label no. 3 that was in use during the 1790s.

Size: framed, 6 x 5" (153 x 121mm)

Price: £425

Austrian-born, Charles Rosenberg is believed to have come to England as one of the entourage accompanying Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz when she arrived in 1761 to marry King George III. This connection may explain why he enjoyed royal and aristocratic patronage throughout his career. Rosenberg settled in Bath where he eventually married in 1790. He was one of the most successful silhouette artists of the period.

Silhouertte on glass by Charles Rosenberg

Trade label for Charles Rosenberg


Cut and gilded silhouette of a child by the Royal Victoria Gallery

Cut and gilded silhouette of a child by the Royal Victoria Gallery

Item Ref. 5122

ROYAL VICTORIA GALLERY, post 1837 - circa 1854

This is a delightful pair of full-length cut and gilded silhouettes of a boy and a girl, undoubtedly siblings. The girl, clearly the elder of the two, is shown holding a single flower and is wearing a dress with a wide collar, elbow-length sleeves and a tiered skirt together with socks and square-toed shoes. Her little brother is shown brandishing a toy whip and is wearing a knee-length dress with short sleeves and buttons running down the bodice. Like his sister he has socks and square-toed shoes. Both children are set in a landscape backdrop with grass and shrubs.

Artist's signatureArtist's signature

Each silhouette is signed 'Frith'. They are cut out and are expertly gilded with painted details for the flower and the whip and a sepia watercolour background. The silhouettes have been both laid on card and are housed in the original flat profile maple veneer frames with gilt slips. The silhouettes have slight age-toning, as would be expected, but are in overall fine condition.

Size: framed, 10½ x 8½" (267 x 217mm)

S O L D !

The Royal Victoria Gallery was run by three members of the Frith family: brothers, Henry Albert & Frederick, and their father, John. The Gallery advertised themselves as 'PAPRYOTOMISTS to His Late as well as to her present Most Gracious Majesty'. They toured extensively troughout England and Ireland during the 1830s and 1840s producing highly finished work. When the introduction of photography threatened their livelihood, the brothers embraced the new technology and opened a Photographics Studio.


Item Ref. 4953

AUSTRO-GERMAN SCHOOL early 19th century

This jewellery piece holds an early 19th century silhouette of a gentleman. The detailing to the profile include strands of wavy hair, a bushy eyebrow and an eyelash. The profile is reverse painted on flat glass in black against a gold background within an attractive floral border.

The silhouette is set in the original gilt metal pendant frame with a solid back. Internally the frame has been padded out with card bearing German text.

Size: framed, 34mm diameter

Price: £140

Continental jewllery silhouette in a oendant frame


Hollow-cut silhouette by Sarah Harrington

Item Ref. 4937

SARAH HARRINGTON active 1772-1787

This is a most attractive hollow-cut silhouette of a young lady wearing a wide-brimmed hat tilted forwards with ribbons streamers at the back. She also has a ribbon necklace tied in a neat bow at the nape of her neck. The style of her hat and necklace dates the portrait to the early to mid 1770s.

Very few British artists favoured the hollow-cut method in the late 18th century and this profile has all the hallmarks of Mrs Harrington's early work including the defined eyelash and the shape of the bust-line. It is set in brass-faced frame with a twisted rope design and a crenellated inner border. The frame has been over-painted in black; this was sometimes carried out as a mourning ritual when the sitter in a portrait died.

Size: framed, 53/8 x 4½" (140 x 110mm)

Price: £275

Mrs Sarah Harrington was well-educated and supported the education of women, even giving geography lessons to young ladies. It appears that she took up silhouette cutting in later life and over a period of twelve to fourteen years worked in all the major English cities, successfully patenting her method of producing profiles in 1775. Early examples of her work were never signed.


Item Ref. 5099

HUBARD GALLERY, circa 1835

Also on offer from the Hubard Gallery and dating from the same period as the gentleman above is this characterful cut and gilded silhouette of a lady holding a book. She is wearing an ankle-length dress with wide 'imbecile' sleeves and a striking cap with a bavolet frill running round the back of her neck and a deep frill framing her face. Her rolled curls are just visible under the cap's brim. On her feet she has flat slipperettes with ribbon ties on the ankles. Her shoes are notably not as dainty as those commonly seen in silhouettes from this period.

Hubard gallery signature on the obverse

The silhouette is cut out and is finely gilded with a watercolour wash base. It is signed in pencil Hubard Gallery bottom left and has the Gallery's stencil stamp on the backing board. It resides in the original bird's eye maple veneer frame with a gilt slip. Excellent condition.

Size: framed, 13 x 97/8" (330 x 252mm)

Price: £300

Hubard Gallery cut and gilded silhouette of a lady

Hubard Gallery stamp on the reverse


Cut and painted silhouette of three children attributed to Beaumont of Cheltenham

Cut and painted silhouette of three children attributed to Beaumont of Cheltenham

Item Ref. 4837

Attributed to W. DYCE BEAUMONT

This charming cut and painted silhouette portrays three young children in a garden setting. The children are all dressed in a rich claret colour which is particularly striking. The youngest child is wearing a short-sleeved dress and a coral beaded necklace. She is carrying a basket of cut flowers and is holding a pink rose. The middle child is wearing a dress with long sleeves with ruffles on the shoulder and is holding a leather-bound book. The tallest child, possibly a boy, appears to be wearing an ankle-length coat, again richly coloured, together with a white cape with a ruff collar. All three are wearing flat shoes secured by ties.

The silhouette is cut out and then painted in watercolour with gilt highlights on the hair. The background is painted in sepia watercolour. It is unsigned and is attributed to Beaumont on stylistic grounds most significantly the use of unusual colours for which Beaumont was renowned. The background card has age toning but overall the silhouette is in fine condition. It is handsomely presented in a flat profile maple frame with a gilt slip.

Size: framed, 13¾ x 11½" (351 x 292mm)

Price: £480

W. Dyce Beaumont worked during the 1830s and 1840s. Although sometimes dubbed 'Beaumont of Cheltenham', very little is actually known about him. His work though is critically acclaimed as 'among the finest of the period'.

Item Ref. 4473

JOHN M. A. TUCKER, 1850

LOST on Monday between Old Town Street & Union St,
a purse containing sovereigns...

This unusual silhouette is a posthumous portrait of William Tucker town crier of Plymouth, a position he held for thirty-five years. Dressed in his regalia of gilt-edged cloak and tricorn hat, and carrying two bells, he would have a prominent figure on the streets. On this particular day he is advertising the lose of a purse containing sovereigns. No doubt there would have been a reward offered for its safe return.

A bell man or town crier spread the news at a time when many people could not read newspapers. The tradition dates back to the sixteenth century when Chester's first bell man was paid one penny for 'going for anything that is lost' and four pennies for leading a funeral procession. An article in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on 12 July 1828 records how the town crier (possibly William Tucker) gave notice that Henry Broom (described as "a wretch in human shape") was intending to auction his wife. He subsequently sold her for one pound, much to the crowd's anger and a riot broke out.

The silhouette is painted and has a watercolour border. It is signed and dated August 1850 on the reverse. The artist was probably a relative of the sitter. The silhouette is also inscribed along the bottom edge - WILLIAM TUCKER / Died Novr 1st, 1848. Aged 79. Being Town crier of the Borough of Plymouth 35 Years. The silhouette is set in the original dark wood frame.

watercolour inscription on a painted silhouette of the Plymouth town crier

Size: framed, 147/8 x 133/8" (380 x 338mm)

Price: £550

Painted silhouette of the Plymouth town crier

Signature on the reverse

Painted silhouette of the Plymouth town crier


Painted silhouette of Eliza Mercy Cotton

Item Ref. 4865

Attributed to GEORGE ATKINSON, active 1806-1826

This lovely young lady is identified by a label on the reverse as Eliza Mercy Cotton. Eliza is depicted in a wide-shouldered dress with voluminous sleeves, a style that was fashionable from about 1825. She wears a long gold chain and drop earrings and her hair is drawn up in a plaited knot with soft curls round her face.

Eliza was born in 1818, the daughter of Frederick Silver, a dissenting minister of de Crespigny Park in Surrey. She married Hugh Powell Cotton and had at least seven children born between 1839 and 1851. The family lived in Mortlake in London and also had a property, presumably a summer residence, in Seaway, Cockington in Devon.

The silhouette is painted on card and is finely gilded. It is attributed on stylistic grounds, in particular the bust-line finish, to George Atkinson. It is housed in a beautiful flat profile bird's eye maple veneer frame with a gilt slip. Excellent condition.

Size: framed, 8¼ x 7¼" (210 x 183mm)

Price: £235

Although recorded as working mainly in Brighton and London, George Atkinson is known to have also spent time working in Devon. In addition to painting profiles he worked as a drawing master. Critics have compared his work favourably with that of John Field.

Item Ref. 4240

JOHN MIERS, 1758-1821

This is an eighteenth century silhouette of a gentleman wearing a 'physical' wig, a style of wig much favoured by the professional and learned gentlemen of the day and which dates the profile to around 1770.

The silhouette is painted on ivory and is signed Miers under the bust-line. It is set in the original ebonised frame.

Framed size: 4¾ x 4¼" (120 x 105mm)

Price: £320

Although he never trained professionally, John Miers is considered to be the finest of the 18th century silhouettists. His career began in Leeds when he took over his father's business as a coach-painter & gilder. Having recently married, Miers was keen to expand the business and, in addition to preparing and selling paints, he advertised profile shades in miniature for 2s. 6d. each. He clearly excelled at this from the start as within a few years this had become his main line of business and prompted Miers to move his family first to Edinburgh and eventually to London where he ran a busy and successful studio at the Strand.

John Miers, silhouette on ivory


Go back to the top
|| Next Page

Cynthia McKinley
Wigs on the Green Fine Art, York
Tel. +44 (0)1904 794711             Mobile: 07962 257915
Email: enquiries@wigsonthegreen.co.uk