An Unknown family group thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case RMC, Shelf 7, Box E

An Unknown family group

Miniature
ca. 1820-1828 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 18th century cut-paper images (usually blackened) were called 'shades'. If they were portraits, they were known as 'profiles'. The fashion for 'profiles' grew in the 1770s, when the archaeological discoveries of ancient Roman sites at Herculaneum and Pompeii encouraged a taste for Neo-classicism. ‘Profiles’ became even more fashionable after about 1775, when Johann Kaspar Lavater published his hugely popular Essays on Physiognomy. He claimed that one could detect a person’s character by concentrating on his or her main features. These would reveal both virtues and vices. Lavater illustrated the book with numerous simple black profiles.

The 'silhouette' was named after a French minister who was notorious for wasting his time on this popular hobby. Commercially, it was very successful, because in its simplest form it was a cheap and quick method of portraiture. Laura Muir Mackenzie's work, however, is an example of the continuing popularity of paper cutting as an amateur pastime. Mackenzie was the third daughter of Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie of Delvine, Perthshire, Scotland, who became a baronet in 1803, and Jane, the eldest daughter of Sir Robert Murray, Baronet. She was a talented cutter of paper silhouettes, producing much of her work in her teens. She cut mainly group silhouettes. These were mainly of domestic scenes, such as babies being bathed, children playing cards and older members of a family playing chess.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cut paper
Brief Description
Silhouette in cut paper of an unknown family group, by Laura Mackenzie. Great Britain, ca. 1820-1828.
Physical Description
Silhouette in cut paper of an unknown family group
Dimensions
  • Height: 155mm
  • Width: 200mm
Credit line
Given by the Hon. Frances M. Talbot
Object history
Given by the Hon. Frances M. Talbot
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the 18th century cut-paper images (usually blackened) were called 'shades'. If they were portraits, they were known as 'profiles'. The fashion for 'profiles' grew in the 1770s, when the archaeological discoveries of ancient Roman sites at Herculaneum and Pompeii encouraged a taste for Neo-classicism. ‘Profiles’ became even more fashionable after about 1775, when Johann Kaspar Lavater published his hugely popular Essays on Physiognomy. He claimed that one could detect a person’s character by concentrating on his or her main features. These would reveal both virtues and vices. Lavater illustrated the book with numerous simple black profiles.



The 'silhouette' was named after a French minister who was notorious for wasting his time on this popular hobby. Commercially, it was very successful, because in its simplest form it was a cheap and quick method of portraiture. Laura Muir Mackenzie's work, however, is an example of the continuing popularity of paper cutting as an amateur pastime. Mackenzie was the third daughter of Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie of Delvine, Perthshire, Scotland, who became a baronet in 1803, and Jane, the eldest daughter of Sir Robert Murray, Baronet. She was a talented cutter of paper silhouettes, producing much of her work in her teens. She cut mainly group silhouettes. These were mainly of domestic scenes, such as babies being bathed, children playing cards and older members of a family playing chess.
Collection
Accession Number
P.59-1930

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record createdJuly 11, 2003
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