The Brush Toupée

Mrs Mary Lightfoot, circa 1790


Around the time when this silhouette was painted, toupées came to be called the ‘brush’ or ‘feathered part’ and were distinctly separated from the back hair as seen on this gentleman whose front hair has been frizzed. His back hair is worn in a Ramillies plait turned up and tied with a ribbon bow.

The silhouette is painted on plaster and is set in the original hammered brass frame with a complete artist’s trade label on the reverse for Mrs Lightfoot of Liverpool.

It was an eight-month stay by John Miers at her house in Liverpool in 1785 that prompted Mary Lightfoot (ca 1750-1837) to begin painting silhouettes. Her artistic career was, however, short-lived and her work failed to reach the standard of her mentor.

The silhouette is in fine condition. A protective cellophane cover has been taped over the label on the back. The frame is fine though with old worm holes around the side.

Item Ref. 6669

Size: framed, 118 x 100mm (4⅝ x 3⅞")

Provenance: Ransford Collection, Bonhams 1999

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