John Field (1772-1848)


With his hair brushed forward around his face, this dapper young gentleman is fashionably dressed in a double-breasted coat and a shirt with a standing collar that brushes against his cheeks. The name Henry is indistinctly written on the reverse and is the only clue to his identity.

When it comes to gilded silhouettes on plaster, none can compare with the work of John Field who, after working for many years alongside the foremost silhouette artist John Miers, went into partnership with Miers’ son William. The two men opened a jewellery shop at 111 Strand where, in the early hours of a May morning in 1829, a fire was discovered. The alarm was raised and three firemen attended with “plenty of water”. It seems a fire had taken place the previous day at the building next door and that smouldering soot had unbeknownst to anyone fallen into the party wall eventually igniting the timbers of the jewellery shop. The building was saved but “items of consequence” in a cupboard (perhaps including silhouette commissions) were destroyed.

The silhouette is set in the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and a leaf hanger. It is backed with a Miers & Field trade label which is complete but with small tears. There is dust under the glass but the silhouette is in fine condition.

Item Ref. 6670

Size: framed, 151 x 126mm (6 x 5")