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John Field silhouette painted on plaster of a named gentleman

Artist's trade label

Item Ref. 5060

JOHN FIELD (1772-1848) in the studio of JOHN MIERS

Every good collection of silhouettes should include at least one profile by John Field and this is a fine example of his work. The sitter, named in a contemporary inscription on the reverse as Henry Revell Reynolds, has a high forehead topped with wispy curls and is wearing a double-breasted coat over a frilled chemise and stock. The profile is backed with the unbroken artist's trade label no. 12. This label was in use between 1810 and 1821, the period when Field is acknowledged to have produced his finest work.

Henry Revell Reynolds the Elder was the Chief Commissioner for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors and therefore a man anyone in financial difficulties would wish to befriend!

The profile is painted on plaster and has been finely bronzed. It is presented in the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and an elongated leaf hanger. Fine condition.

Size: framed, 6 x 5" (151 x 121mm)
Provenance: Originally sold by Charles Woollett & Son, 59/61 Wigmore Street, London

S O L D !

Ranking amongst the finest silhouette artists, John Field began his career as an assistant to John Miers during the 1790s. Theirs was to be a long and prolific partnership lasting until the death of Miers in 1821 when the business was jointly willed to Field and Miers' son William. Field excelled at bronzing and his work in this area was unequalled.


Item Ref. 4929

WILLIAM FARTHING, active 1797-1807

This is a rare example of a profile emanating from the studio of William Farthing of Cheapside. It portrays a young gentleman wearing a frilled chemise and a knotted cravat, his curly hair arranged in the fashionable à la Titus style.

The silhouette is reverse painted on convex glass in solid back with some transparency used to highlight the hair and costume details. It is backed with a buffish-pink composition.

The silhouette is presented in the original pearwood frame backed with the rarely seen artist's trade label no. 2, believed to have been in use around 1806-1807. The label has surface rubbing but is virtually unbroken. An old ink inscription running partly round the outer edge of the label possibly names the sitter but is indecipherable. The silhouette is in excellent condition; the frame (which is more brown than black in colouring) has a small chip and the usual nibbles to the edge.

Size: framed, 47/8 x 41/8" (126 x 105mm)
Provenance: Sotheby's, 24 July 1978

S O L D !

Despite the wording on his label, William Farthing was not actually a silhouette artist himself but a jeweller, a maker of pocket books and a dealer in silhouettes. He lived and worked at no. 12 Cheapside, London, an area that was a hive for publishers and booksellers during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Farthing acquired one of Isaac Hawkins’s Patent Machines for taking profiles and it is believed that he employed silhouettist Henry Hervé I to use it.

Silhouette painted on glass by William Farthing

Rarely seen trade label for William Farthing


Painted silhouette of a gentleman by John Field

Partial trade label on the reverse of a silhouette by John Field

Item Ref. 4960

JOHN FIELD (1772-1848)in the studio of JOHN MIERS

This is another fine example of the work of profilist John Field. The sitter, named in a partial contemporary inscription on the reverse as Ch[arles?] Desborough Esq, has a prominent nose and is bald on top with straggly hair at the back of his head. He is wearing a double-breasted coat and a deep stock. The profile is backed with a remnant of the artist's trade label no. 12 and is dated Feb. 1816. This label was in use between 1810 and 1821, the period when Field is acknowledged to have produced his finest work.

The profile is painted on plaster and has been finely bronzed. It is presented in the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and an acorn hanger. Fine condition.

Size: framed, 5¾ x 47/8 " (148 x 123mm)

S O L D !

Ranking amongst the finest silhouette artists, John Field began his career as an assistant to John Miers during the 1790s. Theirs was to be a long and prolific partnership lasting until the death of Miers in 1821 when the business was jointly willed to Field and Miers' son William. Field excelled at bronzing and his work in this area was unequalled.


Item Ref. 5014

SAMUEL METFORD (1810-1896)

This is a delightful example of a profile by Quaker silhouette artist Samuel Metford. It depicts a young boy with ringletted hair wearing a Petersham coat with two rows of buttons down the front and a further line of buttons on the back, On his feet he has dainty shoes decorated with little bows, a style that was commonly worn by boys and men at that time. The boy is holding a toy whip in one hand and his peaked cap in the other hand.

The silhouette has been cut out and is extensively gilded. The coat collar appears to have been cut separately from white card. The profile has been laid on a simple watercolour wash backdrop and is signed bottom left "S Metford, fecit".

Signature of the artist Samuel Metford

Although it's not particularly noticeable, there is a small watermark just above the watercolour base on the right hand side. Otherwise the silhouette is in fine condition. The frame has minor old losses to the veneer on both top corners.

Size: framed, 10¾ x 9¼" (277 x 235mm)

Price: £280

Born in Glastonbury into a Quaker family, Samuel Metford left England for the United States when just 24 years old. He became an American citizen and worked there for about ten years before returning to settle in Lancashire. He worked almost exclusively within the Quaker community. He returned to the United States in 1865 but only stayed there a couple of years before finally returning home to his native Somerset. Metford had no children (his wife became mentally ill shortly after their marriage) but he adopted a son within the Quaker community in the north of England. He died in 1896 in his 86th year.

Samuel Metford, cut and gilded silhouette of a boy

Cut and gilded silhouette of a boy by Samuel Metford


Cut and gilded silhouette of an elegant lady

Item Ref. 4866

BRITISH SCHOOL, circa 1825

This is a cut and finely gilded bust-length silhouette of an elegant young lady, her hair swept up in a fashionable Apollo knot secured with a large tortoiseshell comb and with long ringlets clasped to the side of her face. Her dress has wide sleeves and a round neck-line and for jewellery she is wearing a long gold chain, a beaded necklace and gold drop earrings.

The silhouette is cut and laid on card. It is housed in a particularly handsome flat profile rosewood veneer frame with a gilt slip. Fine condition.

Size: framed, 8½ x 7½" (216 x 189mm)

Price: £235


Item Ref. 4926

CHARLES ROSENBERG (1745-1844)

This is one of Rosenberg's lesser known full-length silhouettes reverse painted on flat glass. Even though the figure is diminutive in size - it stands at just over 10 cm in height - and has been painted in solid black without the use of transparency, the detailing is remarkable: bushy eyebrows, eyelash, double chin, two large buttons on his coat and a large bow on his bag wig. The gentleman is identified as the Earl of Guilford and is depicted holding a cane with his hat tucked under his arm and a sword hanging on his belt.

George Augustus North, 3rd Earl of Guilford was born in 1757, the eldest son of Tory Prime Minister Lord North. He followed in his father’s footsteps being educated at Eton and Oxford before entering Parliament.

The silhouette is painted on glass and is backed with the original paper (now somewhat browned). It is housed in the original giltwood frame and backed with the artist's trade label which is inscribed (perhaps in the artist's own hand) "Earl of Guilford / patron of this living / 1793". The gilding to the frame is distressed with small areas of loss. The sitter's name has been inscribed along the bottom edge though this has faded. The profile itself is in excellent condition.

Size: framed, 7¾ x 6¼" (198 x 161mm)

Price: £480

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.

Full-length silhouette by Charles Rosenberg

Charles Rosenberg's trade label


Rare painted silhouette by Prosopographus

Rare Prosopographus label

Item Ref. 4787

PROSOPOGRAPHUS THE AUTOMATON ARTIST, 1820

This is a bust-length silhouette of a gentleman named on the reverse in minuscule handwriting as Wilfred Spier of Cambridge. He has bushy side-whiskers and curly hair and is wearing spectacles. It is dated 1820 on the reverse.

The silhouette is painted on card and gilded. It is backed with the rare Prosopographus trade label no.1 on cerise paper. The silhouette is handsomely housed in a deep bird's eye maple frame with a gilded slip.

Size: framed, 75/8 x 6" (192 x 155mm)

Price: £220

A professional fruit-grower and professor of music, Charles Hervé II invented a mechanical device for drawing the outline of silhouettes which he named ‘Prosopographus, the Automaton Artist’. He exhibited it around the country as a great curiosity. A contemporary handbill claimed that it could ‘produce more perfect resemblances than any living artist [could] possibly execute’ while an advertisement in The Examiner for the Year 1826 claimed that to ‘witness this extraordinary performance, but One Shilling is required from each visitor ... from Tea till Dusk’.


Item Ref. 5103

BRITISH SCHOOL, circa 1825

This is an attractive full-length silhouette of a young girl standing profile to the left and holding a single flower in her hand. With her short hair combed to the side and decorated with a cute bow, she is wearing an ankle-length dress with a tiered neckline, a belted waist and short ruffled sleeves. The hem of the skirt is trimmed with three circular lines of braid. The style of her dress dates the portrait to the mid 1820s.

The silhouette is painted in watercolour heightened with gum arabic and is extensively gilded. It is presented in a flat profile bird's eye maple veneer frame with a gilt slip and old glass. Excellent condition.

Size: framed, 11 x 9" (286 x 232mm)

S O L D !

Full-length painted silhouette of a young girl, circa 1825


Painted silhouette of a child

Item Ref. 3739

SCOTTISH? SCHOOL, circa 1820

This is a charming silhouette of a child with short hair and a cut little snub nose. The child is wearing a high-waisted dress with short sleeves and a beaded necklace. A partial inscription on the backing paper reads: Falkner, Edinburgh.

The silhouette is painted with gum arabic used to trace the details of the child's dress, beaded necklace and hair. It is set in the original papier-mâché frame with an emblems (rose, thistle & shamrock) hanger.

Framed size: 5 x 4¼" (128 x 113mm)

S O L D !


 

Item Ref. 2394

ENGLISH SCHOOL, circa 1830

This attractive silhouette portrait is painted with a touch of colour and portrays a young lady wearing a dress with full, possibly 'leg of mutton' sleeves and a coral beaded necklace. Her hair is swept up into an Apollo knot and secured with a large comb.

The silhouette is painted in dark grey watercolour with gold paint used to accentuate the hair. It is set in a handsome period bird's eye maple frame.

Framed size: 77/8 x 7½" (185 x 140mm)

Price: £120

Painted silhouette portrait of a lady

Painted silhouette portrait of a lady


Cut silhouette of a named gentleman by Augustin Edouart

Unrecorded trade label

Signature of Augustin Edouart

Item Ref. 5056

MONSIEUR AUGUSTIN EDOUART (1789-1861

This is a full-length cut silhouette of a gentleman wearing a frock coat over a shirt with a standing collar and knotted stock. He stands in a pastoral landscape before a country church holding his top hat and switch. The gentleman is named on the reverse as Robert Omond MD of Edinburgh.

Robert Omond was born in December 1806 to George Omond, a Kirkwall merchant and banker, and his wife Jane (née McKinlay). He went on to study medicine becoming a surgeon in Edinburgh and in due course being elected President of the Royal Collage of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In 1838 Robert married Mary Traill. The couple had six children, the youngest son becoming the superintendent of the Ben Nevis Observatory. Dr Omond published a book on medical statistics in 1841. He died in December 1881 at the age of seventy-five.

The cut silhouette is laid on a lithograph background. Though it is difficult to see against the dark background, the profile is signed and dated bottom left 'Augn Edouart fecit 1831'. This accords with the entry in Mrs Jackson's index - Omond, Dr Robt, 4 Forres Street (Edinburgh, June 22 1831). The silhouette is housed in the original bird's eye maple veneer frame with gilt slip and with the artist's trade label on the reverse. Although unrecorded by McKechnie, this label was used by Edouart during his time in Scotland and is in itself a fascinating record of the artist's current prices and the various options available including post-mortem profiles.

The background card has slight marking to the front of the waistline and below the feet caused by the gum used on the profile. There is also a single brown spot in the sky area top right. Otherwise the silhouette and the frame are both in excellent clean condition.

Size: framed, 13¾ x 10¼" (350 x 264mm)
Literature: Ancestors in Silhouette Cut by August Edouart / Mrs Jackson - page 157

S O L D !

As an ex-Bonapartist claiming asylum in Britain, Augustin Edouart set himself up as a dealer in French and fancy goods in Cheltenham. Unfortunately the enterprise was declared bankrupt in May 1826 and he needed to find an alternative career. Quite by chance he discovered, when challenged by a friend at a dinner-party, that he had a natural aptitude for cutting likenesses, so much so that he thereafter made a successful career of it. He toured extensively throughout the British Isles for several years cutting many thousands of profiles including well-known figures of the day, many of them authors, musicians, politicians and royalty. In 1839 he set sail for America where he toured successfully for ten years before deciding to retire to his native France. He nearly didn't make it though as his ship went down in a storm off Guernsey. Fortunately the passengers were all rescued but Edouart lost virtually the whole of his precious archive of work and the will to continue to work commercially thereafter.


Item Ref. 4934

H. and J. WALTER, circa 1850

This is a profile of a child, most likely a boy, brandishing a toy whip. The child has short hair and is wearing a bolero-style coat over a calf-length dress with white socks and dainty shoes with ankle straps.

The silhouette is cut and gilded, with Chinese white used for the child's socks. It is stamped on the reverse with the artists' stencil - H. & J. Walter / Profilists/ London - and is presented in the original rosewood frame with a gilded slip. There is also an unrecorded paper trade label on the reverse of the frame with the same wording as the stencil. Fine condition

Size: framed, 8½ x 6¾" (215 x 175mm)

S O L D !

Stencil stamp for H. & J. Walter, silhouette artistsTrade label for H. & J. Walter, silhouette artists

The silhouette artists H. & J. Walter were active between about 1848 and 1853 and are known from just a handful of examples of their work.

Cut and gilded silhouette by H & J Walter


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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