John Field (1772-1848)


This Regency gentleman from around 1818 has two distinguishing features: his pigtail wig tied with a discreet bow; and, his over the ear glasses known as ‘wig spectacles’. Having been designed to be worn over a wig, these spectacles were apparently difficult to wear without a wig.

The silhouette is painted on plaster and has been expertly gilded by John Field who worked as an assistant to the foremost silhouette artist, John Miers, at his studio on the Strand. The two men enjoyed a long friendship and when Miers died in 1821 he willed the goodwill of the business and its assets to be shared between his son William Miers and his friend John Field. The two men continued to produce likenesses and opened a jewellery shop at 111 Strand but the collaboration was not a happy one and in 1829 the new partnership filed for bankruptcy. Even though he was almost sixty years of age, Field then moved a few doors down the Strand and established his own studio at no. 2.

The silhouette is set in the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and an emblems (rose, thistle and shamrock) hanger. It is backed with the artist’s trade label no. 12 which was in use during the period when John Field was producing his finest work. It is indistinctly inscribed: ‘Mr Morgan’s / property . . . 1818’?, possibly the sitter’s name. Apart from dust under the glass, the silhouette is in fine condition.

Item Ref. 6676

Size: framed, 154 x 134mm (6 x 5¼")