John Field in Miers Studio


As for admiration, it was always very welcome when it came . . .  – – Northanger Abbey

John Field’s bronzed silhouettes of elegant young ladies such as this never fail to evoke the era of Jane Austen whose novels epitomise the Regency period. Her high-waisted dress devoid of ruffles and frills ensures a classic profile, her only ornament being the beaded necklace.

The silhouette was painted on white plaster using a mixture of soot and beer before being expertly gilded. It is housed in the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and ormolu leaf hanger. The frame is backed with the Miers studio label no. 12 – this label was used on John Field’s best work. The sitter’s name is written on the back in pencil but is too faint to read.

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. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two men 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.

Item Ref. 7483

Size: framed, 154 x 139mm (6 x 5½")