"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.
This beautiful late 18th century Georgian locket depicts a woman in period dress painted on ivory, laid over an opalescent blue foiled background, the initials "RW" below her likeness. It is dated "Obt: 19th: Feby: A.D. 1785". The convex glass on the front has been reverse painted with a sun ray pattern and a sun shines above her portrait, symbolizing renewed life.
This mourning piece has been set in silver. It measures 41.6mm long by 31.2mm wide and weighs 17.3g. There is some light scuffing to glass commensurate with age and use. On the reverse, the initials "CH" have been crudely engraved. I have added a silver jump ring for wearability. You will receive the pictured locket.
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