A Regency Boy

John Field, circa 1820


John Field (1772-1848) is prominently placed amongst the finest and most collectable silhouette artists working during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. His career began during the 1790s when he was taken on as an assistant to John Miers in his London studio. That opportunity transpired into the start of a lifelong friendship and a prolific partnership that only ceased when Miers died in 1821. The business was at that point jointly willed to Field and Miers’s son, William, but the dynamics had clearly been altered too much as within a few years the business filed for bankruptcy. Field continued to paint profiles during the 1830s but from a studio that he now shared with his own son.

This example of John Field’s work dates from about 1820 and shows a smartly dressed boy in a frilled chemise and stock, his hair brushed forward and ruffled over his forehead, as was the fashion of the day.

The silhouette is painted on a plaster base and is expertly bronzed. It is housed in the original papier-mâché frame with convex glass, a decorative surround and ormolu leaf hanger. The frame is backed with the artist’s unbroken trade label no. 12, as used on Field’s finest work.

There are a couple of chips to the edge of the plaster base, the main one at four o’clock. This must have happened before the silhouette was framed as there is no sign of plaster dust under the glass. The profile itself is in good condition with just tiny spots of paint loss that are only visible under magnification.

Item Ref. 6044

Size: framed, 148 x 124mm (5⅞ x 4⅞")