Cameo Portrait

Jacob Spornberg


Jacob Spornberg was one of almost twenty artists working in Bath during the 1790s as listed in the New Bath Guides. Bath was then at the height of its popularity as a spa resort with a steady influx of well-heeled visitors arriving to take the waters. Given that a fair proportion of these artists specialised in painting portrait miniatures and/or profiles, it must have been difficult to stand out. But Spornberg was creative and had developed two distinctive styles of miniature profiles, one “executed in the Etruscan Manner” in vermilion red and black, the other “in cameo”, a more subtle style where a sepia portrait stands out against a dark background.

This profile is painted in the cameo style on an ivory base. Unlike the usual silhouette, the well-dressed gentleman’s features, hair and attire are carefully delineated. These profiles are rarely seen so perhaps the style did not find favour with Spornberg’s clientele.

The profile is housed in a traditional papier-mâché frame with convex glass and a floral hanger. The profile is in fine condition; likewise the frame.

Born in Finland in 1768, Spornberg had settled in Bath by 1790 where his wife Rebecca ran a millinery shop in Milsom Street. Following her death in 1840, Spornberg emigrated to the USA to join his son.

Item Ref. 7157

Size: framed, 150 x 135mm (5⅞ x 5¼)