Siblings by Spornberg

Signed and dated 1800


This is a well-documented pair of profile portraits, one showing a young boy in a muslin dress with short sleeves and a frilled neckline, the other showing a baby in a dress and lace cap.

Drawn in pencil and watercolour, they are set against a brown background and are each signed on the reverse – ‘J. Spornberg fecit / inventor of the / Etruscan Profiles / No. 1 Union Passage / Bath / 1800’.

The silhouettes are set in the original papier-mâché frames with convex glass and star hangers. There is slight water staining to the base of one profile – this is of long standing as it is visible in images taken of them in 1971.

Finnish by birth, Jacob Spornberg (b.1768) settled in Bath in 1790. His wife Rebecca ran a millinery shop in Milsom Street. In 1840, following Rebecca’s death, Spornberg emigrated to the United States to join his son.

Item Ref. 5541

Size: framed, 133 x 115mm (5¼ x 4½")

Provenance: Robert Kilner Collection, Sotheby's 1985 ; Martin Willcocks Collection, Phillips 1998 ; Private Collection, New York

Literature: Sue McKechnie, Jacob Spornberg - p24 ; Sue McKechnie, British Silhouette Artists and their Work - pp 724, 736