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Admiral Sir James Wishart

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, drawn)

  • Date:

    1704 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Faber, John I (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    ink on vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Grace Valentine Stephenson as part of the R. H. Stephenson Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 8

In the second half of the 17th century in England there was a fashion for small black and white portraits drawn on vellum (fine animal skin). This medium is more durable than paper. Although these portraits were called 'plumbagos', meaning black lead, they were usually drawn in graphite and sometimes in ink. This portrait is done in graphite.

‘Plumbagos' developed in the Netherlands in the late 16th century within the print trade. They developed from the printmakers’ original drawings on paper, from which a print would have been engraved. 'Plumbagos' were introduced into England when the monarchy was restored in 1660, by printmakers who returned home from exile abroad. As the taste for 'plumbagos' became established, artists who were not printmakers also began to produce them.

A few artists continued the art of the 'plumbago' into the early 18th century. John Faber was born at The Hague in the Netherlands about 1650 or 1660. As well as drawing 'plumbago' portraits, he was also a mezzotint portrait engraver. He came to England about 1687 or later and settled in London. His son, John Faber (about 1684–1756), was a well-known engraver.

Physical description

Plumbago miniature of Admiral Sir James Wishart.

Place of Origin

England (probably, drawn)


1704 (drawn)


Faber, John I (artist)

Materials and Techniques

ink on vellum

Marks and inscriptions

J Faber Delineavit Ao 1704 may 4
inscribed on plinth

Ye Earle of Peterboro / ? Aug 1705
written in pencil on the back


Height: 94 mm, Width: 78 mm

Descriptive line

Plumbago miniature of Admiral Sir James Wishart, ink on vellum, painted by John Faber the Elder (1650?-1721). Great Britain, 1704.

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

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.


Ink; Vellum




Portraits; Drawings; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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