Rare Labelled Pair

W. Clarke, circa 1780


This rare pair of silhouettes by W. Clarke are painted on a thin plaster base using dead black for the face and shades of grey with white for the costume detailing. The gentleman is wearing a coat over a buttoned waistcoat and frilled chemise and has a military bicorn hat with a cockade. The lady has a dark surcoat over her dress which has a distinctive ribbon bow on the waistline. Her wonderful dormeuse cap is fastened under her chin. The names of the couple have sadly been lost to history.

The profiles are set in the original brass-faced frames and are both backed with differing hand-written inscriptions by the artist – “Ladies & Gents may have more Copies with-out the inconvenience of a second sitting” and, “Ladys & Gents may have more Copies without a second sitting – old shades accurately reduced & dress’d in the present taste by Clarke Church [St] Exeter”. Both labels have small losses but remain legible.

The silhouettes are in good antique condition with some light browning to the unpainted areas of the plaster base. There is also a couple of small areas of paint loss to the gentleman (towards the back of his hat and on his coat).

No biographical details are recorded for W. Clarke who was an itinerant artist known to have worked in Chester, Liverpool, Exeter and Anglesey. His work is barely known outside a small group of profiles on display at Stoner House in Oxfordshire.

Item Ref. 5822

Size: framed, 125 x 105mm