Professional Gentleman

William Hamlet the Elder


It’s always a bonus when a silhouette comes with the artist’s printed trade label on the back of the frame but even more of a bonus when the label is in the artist’s very own handwriting, as on this silhouette by William Hamlet the Elder. The silhouette is of an older gentleman in a distinctive style of wig known as a ‘physical’ wig. These were favoured by professional gentlemen such as doctors, lawyers or clerics.

The profile is reverse painted on convex glass with some scratching to denote the coat collar and the sleeve. The wig is painted in transparent grey also with some scratching to convey its texture. It is backed with card.

The silhouette is housed in the original papier-mâché frame with a rose hanger and is inscribed by the artist on the backing paper – ‘Hamlet / Profile Panter / 17 Union Passage / Bath’.

William Hamlet the Elder is believed to have been a French émigré who settled in Bath where he had a studio between 1785 and 1816. He counted royalty amongst his clientele. The recent discovery of a newspaper article has revealed him to have been ‘a man of colour’.

Item Ref. 6140

Size: framed, 112 x 104mm (4⅝ x 4⅛")