Mr & Mrs Ransome

William Twigg Allport


Possibly painted to mark their marriage around 1808, these well-painted silhouettes depict Mr and Mrs J.A. Ransome: he wearing a neatly tied stock, his hair fashionably brushed high over his forehead; she in a dainty lace cap with a broad ribbon trim and a lace fastening under her chin. Both profiles have Allport’s trademark painted lines under the bust. Set in the original papier-mâché frames with convex glass and Museum hangers, the silhouettes are in fine condition. The frames have the usual edge dings and a short scratch to one glass.

Born in Birmingham in 1779, William Twigg Allport was the third of eleven children born to Thomas and Ann Allport (also spelled Alport). Thomas was a gunsmith by trade and at least five of his sons subsequently joined him in that business. William though moved to Liverpool having opted instead to follow an artistic career. There he met and married Alice Ashworth and with her had nine children between 1803 and 1819.

In Liverpool Allport worked as a profile artist for William Bullock at his Museum of Natural Curiosities – hence the use of ‘Museum’ hangers. Bullock also hailed from Birmingham having worked there as a goldsmith so it’s possible that the two men were already acquainted so it may have been the offer of a job as an artist that prompted Allport to leave his home city. Bullock claimed to have invented a physiognotrace, a device that used wire and lenses to capture and reduce an outline profile. This was promoted as an added visitor attraction within the Museum – ‘the most accurate Likenesses can be taken in one minute’ – and would have been used by Allport.

By 1809 Bullock and his collection had outgrown Liverpool so he transferred the Museum to London. Allport, now married with a young family, stayed behind as did the physiognotrace so it was at this point that he was finally able to paint under his own name. Allport never returned to his home city and his death in 1831, at the age of 52, was announced by the Liverpool press.

Item Ref. AC9070

Size: framed, 141 x 123mm