Lady in Blue

George Atkinson (ca.1785-1851)


The use of colour on a painted silhouette, especially when coupled with gilding, always makes for an eye-catching  and attractive profile. Its use though was no more than occasional and only a handful of silhouette artists adopted the style. Amongst them was George Atkinson who created this accomplished silhouette of a young lady in a blue dress buckled at the waist and with a fine lace collar painted in Chinese white. Her curled hair is neatly gilded with wispy curls added in blue grey watercolour.

Biographical details for George Atkinson are scanty. He was born in Lincoln around 1785, married a girl from Durham and fathered six children. As a young man he travelled around as an itinerant artist but by 1817 he had settled in Brighton where he worked for about ten years. By the time of the 1841 census, he and his family were living at 1 London Street in Hackney. By then his children were aged between 8 and 24 with two of the boys having followed in their father’s footsteps by becoming artists.

The style of the lady’s dress and hair in this profile suggests it was painted during the mid 1820s and is thus representative of the peak of Atkinson’s career when he was based in Brighton.

The silhouette is set in a traditional papier-mâché frame with an acorn hanger. There is a hint of what may be water damage to the bottom right corner though this is faint and does not affect the painted profile. The frame has a chip to the top right corner but is otherwise fine.

Item Ref. 6715

Size: framed, 139 x 123mm