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Family group of cut and bronzed silhouettes

Item Ref. 5190

Attributed to WILLIAM SEVILLE (1797-1866)

This is an attractive family group of cut and gilded silhouettes housed in a striking bespoke frame. The portraits depict: Jane Scott wearing a décolleté dress with a fill-in and a turban-style hat; her daughters, Jane and Emma, in matching high-waisted dresses, the neckline edged with lace; and her young son William dressed in a skeleton suit with two vertical rows of brass buttons and a ruff collar. The style of dress dates the silhouette to around 1820.

The silhouettes are cut out and are bronzed with white detailing on the mother's tall collar. They are set in a distinctive shield-shaped papier-mâché frame with brass surrounds and an unusual acorn and profile bust hanger. The silhouettes have some age browning to the background card but are otherwise in good condition.

Size: framed, 12 x 10½" (305 x 270mm) max.
Provenance: Nevill Jackson Collection

S O L D !

William Seville was baptised on 5 March 1797 at Lees near Oldham, one of seven children of Joseph and Sarah Seville. He began cutting silhouettes around 1818 and styled himself 'Mr. Seville of Manchester'. He was an itinerant artist and his travels around Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the northern counties of England can be charted by his signed silhouettes and by advertisements in local newspapers. By the 1840s his son, Frederick William, had joined him in the business and was considered particularly skilled at the gilding work.

Item Ref. 5264

BRITISH SCHOOL, circa 1830

This is an engaging cut and gilded silhouette of an elegant young lady seated, book in hand, on a bergere armchair, her feet resting on a small stool. Her dress is buckled at the waist and has a deep lace collar fastened with a brooch and full sleeves that taper towards the cuff. Her hair has been swept back into a knot with long ringlets framing her face.

The silhouette is cut and finely gilded with a grey watercolour wash base. It is presented in a particularly handsome burr maple frame with a narrow gilt slip. The depth of the frame is 2¼". Excellent condition.

Size: framed, 13½ x 115/8" (345 x 296mm)

Price: £320

Cut and gilded silhouette of a young lady

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: £1,500

Mother nursing her youngest baby

Item Ref. 4867


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

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 crenelated 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)

S O L D !

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. 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: £90

Continental jewllery silhouette in a oendant frame

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. 4972


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)

S O L D !

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

John Miers, silhouette on ivory

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.

Item Ref. 4473


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

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