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Cut-paper picture - Britannia mourning Frederick, Prince of Wales
  • Britannia mourning Frederick, Prince of Wales
    Bermingham, Nathaniel
  • Enlarge image

Britannia mourning Frederick, Prince of Wales

  • Object:

    Cut-paper picture

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1751 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bermingham, Nathaniel (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cut paper, in a mahogany frame

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Vanda Howden

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery, case WS

Object Type
This image has an arched top, for it was originally mounted as a decorative panel in a table screen.

Materials & Making
Cut-paper work was fashionable in The Netherlands in the 17th century. Images created from cut-out paper are usually set against a background of contrasting colour, and sometimes material too. Here blue silk is the background. The silk is sewn in white thread with small stars. The paper was cut out with a penknife. It was unusual for a professional artist to practice this skill, but Nathaniel Bermingham (active 1740-1774) was also responsible for promoting the technique as a fashionable female diversion in London.

Subjects Depicted
Frederick, Prince of Wales (born 1707), the son of George II and father of George III, died suddenly in his mid-forties. The image, based on an engraving, commemorates his death. The Prince's portrait, framed in a laurel wreath, is mourned over by Britannia, the personification of Britain. The royal coat of arms, surrounded by the ribbon with the motto of the Order of the Garter, is supported by a seated child.

Nathaniel Bermingham advertised his skill in obtaining exact likenesses 'with all the shades of the face without the help of colours' in the Dublin Daily Advertiser in 1740. He is recorded in London in 1744, and regularly exhibited his work in the capital in the 1770s.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1751 (made)


Bermingham, Nathaniel (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cut paper, in a mahogany frame


Height: 53.5 cm including frame, Width: 32 cm including frame, Depth: 2 cm including frame

Object history note

Made by Nathaniel Bermingham (born in Dublin, active in London 1763-1774)

Descriptive line

Screen: Cut paper picture of Britannia mourning Frederick, Prince of Wales

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Noël Riley, The Accomplished Lady. A History of Genteel Pursuits c. 1660-1860. Leeds: Oblong, 2017, p. 249, illustrated p. 252: 'One of the best-known professional practicioners in the mid-eighteenth century was Nathaniel Bermingham (fl. 1740-1774), 'Herald Extraordinary and Improver of a curious art of cutting out Portraits and Coats of Arms on Vellum, with the point of a pen-knife...' whose work, including 'very curious watch-papers' was widely copied by amateurs. The quotations are from the Universal Director, 1763, quoted in the Sotheby's sale of Important English Furniture and Decorations, New York, 13 October 1994, lot 93.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Nathaniel Bermingham specialised in cut-paper portraits which became popular in the 1740s. He was described as a 'heraldic painter and artist in the curious art of cutting out Portraits and Coats of Arms in Vellum with the point of a penknife'. This impressive example commemorates the sudden death of the Prince of Wales in 1751. [27/03/2003]




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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