"Black shades", as these were originally called, began being made around the end of the 17th century. Monsieur Étienne de Silhouette, who gave his name to the genre, was merely a gifted enthusiast who covered the walls of his chateau with his efforts, but professionals and amateurs alike delighted in creating minor masterpieces in this now forgotten art. Silhouettes were made by tracing a profile from a shadow cast by a candle on to paper and then reducing it with a machine known as a pantograph. The silhouette was then cut out, painted and framed. The finest practitioners produced quite lovely effects and could charge high prices for their work." - from "Georgian Jewellery", Ginny Redington Dawes with Olivia Collings
Miniature silhouettes were very popular during the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Varying in materials and with a sitting time much quicker than a painted portrait (most profilists advertised a required sitting of only one to five minutes), many people found these portraits accessible as they were far more affordable than their painted portrait counterparts. Some 18th century trade labels mention prices ranging from 2 to 6 shillings, depending on the frame or setting.
John Field was one of the most famous of silhouette artists. He began his career as an assistant to John Miers, the most successful profilist of the eighteenth century. By 1794 he was responsible for most of the profiles painted at Miers' London studio. In 1830 the Miers and Field partnership was dissolved and Field worked at the same address as his son, also a profile painter, Henry William Field. Field not only produced silhouettes but filled sketchbooks with landscape drawings and painted landscapes, some of which were unusually on the same plaster surface on which he painted silhouettes. He exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy, both silhouettes and landscapes.
This beautiful c.1820 Georgian locket depicts a man in period dress, embellished with gilding. Signed "Field 2 Strand". A sentimental piece given as a token love or friendship. In absolutely wonderful condition.
The brooch is set in 9k yellow gold (not marked, as typical of the time but, acid tested). It measures 25.9mm tall x 20mm wide and weighs 4.5g. You will receive the pictured brooch.
All my pieces ship from my studio in Toronto, ON. Please check out my shop policies before purchasing and/or should you have any questions.
You can view my newest pieces on Instagram at @black.umbrella.jewelry