Striking Early Victorian Silhouette Painting of Charlotte Taylor


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THE STORY - It was that profile, her elongated nose and her strong chin and those pursed lips, and then framing the profile those three wonderful bronzed ringlets that instantly stole my heart. And of course I knew it was lovely having her name and date of birth and death pasted on the back, but what I didn't realise was that it would lead to me a fascinating few hours researching her. Charlotte was born to John and Elizabeth Susannah Swainson in 1819. She was one of ten children and they lived in Halton Hall, Halton, Lincolnshire. Unfortunately the hall was demolished in 1930, but there are some wonderful images to be seen on the internet. John Swainson sounds a wonderful figure and there was a marvellous piece I found in 'The Gardners Magazine & Register of Rural & Domestic Improvements 1836, mentioning a 'very fine plate of the Marie-Louise Pear from John Swainson Esq, Halton Hall. Charlotte married at the age of 22 in 1841 to Thomas Taylor and after that I am afraid I was unable to find any more information about her. The silhouette I believe is painted in watercolour on card, and would I think of been painted possibly just before her wedding and I have to say her dress reminds me very much of that worn by Marian Lister (sister) in the fabulous BBC production of Gentleman Jack, there is no lace and satin, this to me looks like a dress which would of been worn in the cold months in the large cold rooms of the Hall, and although not as detailed as the face as is usual in these paintings I do love the strong collar. The silhouette sits in I believe it's original frame, which I think is lacquered papier-mâché and around the silhouette is a deep set brass oval rim and there is the original brass acorn hanging securely attached. The glass of the silhouette is beautifully convex but it has made it very difficult to photograph either without reflection or to portray the true colour of the background of the silhouette and has made it look a lot whiter that it really is. For me the truest representation of the colour would be the first photo.

AGE - Circa 1840

CONDTION - The silhouette is in good condition there is some minor foxing to the card, which is best seen in the first photo. The glass is clear and unscratched and the brass rim is still very bright. The frame too is in good condition with some very, faint surface scratching to the lacquer. A new backing has been placed on the frame and the script and frame makers name have been attached to this.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Framed - Height 6"/ 15cm, Width 4.75" / 12cm, Depth 1/4" / 0.75cm. Un framed - Height 3&1/4" / 8.5cm, Width 2&1/2" / 6.5cm

I loved this silhouette the instant I saw it, but on doing my research I now love this silhouette even more. I cannot help but imagine this wonderful young woman with that striking profile striding around Halton Hall in that incredible dress waiting to sit to have her silhouette painted. Because of the strength of her profile I think it would make a beautiful and impactful addition to any collection of silhouettes and miniature paintings and also because of that profile I think she would make any impact on any wall even if she was the only picture on it!

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