An Oxford Gentleman

William Rought


Silhouettes are traditionally also known as ‘shades’ or ‘shadows’, the latter term being particularly relevant when, as here, a silhouette has been reverse painted on convex glass and throws a shadow on to the backing card. This neatly painted portrait shows a gentleman facing left and wearing a frilled chemise and a deep stock tied in a small bow. The silhouette sits in the original turned pear wood frame and is backed with the artist’s trade label (no. 1). The silhouette is in good condition; the frame has a couple of small chips to the outer edge that appear to be original.

William Rought (1775-1852) worked from the Cornmarket, Oxford and was by trade a wood turner (as was his father, John) and a house painter. In his late twenties he enlisted as an Ensign in the Oxford Loyal Volunteers. Unlike the militia, the Volunteers came from the upper and middle classes. He was later promoted to the rank of Captain.

Aged 49 in 1824, Rought married Sarah Hobbins from Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire. Sarah was illiterate and at least twenty years younger – in the 1841 Census she claimed to be 38 whilst William was 65 though in the 1851 Census she was perhaps more honest claiming to be 55 whilst William was 75. Rought died at Great Haseley in 1852 having moved out of the city in 1833. His death was noted in the Oxford Journal (13 March 1852). The couple do not appear to have any had any surviving children.

Item Ref. 6321

Size: framed, 118 x 100mm (4⅝ x 4")