The seller's description is as follows: "The SUPERB attention to hair detail and the way the curve of the busts was cut leads me to attribute these as the work of WILLIAM BACHE ! !"

Note: I cannot even see a "B" of Bache anywhere on these silhouettes. The top pair and the bottom pair differ so much in style that I do not think they were cut by the same hand.


More on Bruff

Carl from Charleston writes:

"I am attaching several photos of the J. Bruff silhouette. Unfortunately, I could not get a good photo of the embossed insignia, but it is exactly like the one published on the website (J Bruff at top, Baltimore at bottom and star in center). This one also has a penciled name at the bottom, my guess, identifying the sitter in the portrait. Since the backing was not attached, I had it secured w/ framer points. As best as I can tell, it is the original frame (w/ the original glass and loop hardware at the top). As I stated before, I found it at a rummage sale and initially, was buying it just for the frame (I thought the silhoutte was probably a print). When I got home and examined it, I realized that it was authentic. It was truly a great find!"

"I have enjoyed the website and learning more about early American silhouettes."

NOTE: The bust tip is unmistakenly that of Bruff, with or without his stamp. With this inclusion, there are now three known Bruffs in private collections. It was a "great find" for Carl. The frame is very nice too. The construction of the base is as simple as it comes but with an added veneered facing, either painted or natural grained.


Born Without Arms
The following comment was posted on my other site devoted to Nellis, Honeywell, and Rogers. It reads, "jhanes has left a new comment on your post "Silkwork by Martha Honeywell": Hi there. Just discovered your website---have you been here long? Anyway, I am now the owner of the silkwork that you show on your website that was done by M Honeywell. I wrote about it in my newsletter, and here is a link to it: (LINK REMOVED by editor)Also, one of the silhouttes that was sold on ebay by Honeywell (the one that sold for $200) was mine as well. I think it is pictured in the article in the newsletter. It is interesting, because the "witness" of Honeywell's execution of this work was George Keim, who was an industrial supplier from Reading, PA, and moved to Philadelphia the same year that the needlework was done on the corner of Race & Arch St. In Philadelphia, he worked with Dupont, and no doubt became a very wealthy man!"

William Doyle

The following comes from Peggy, one of our readers.

"The painted silhouette is 18th century, on laid paper, and includes a very unusual tromphe l’oeil decorated mat painted on the paper (complete with shading that makes the mat look 3 dimensional). The silhouette bares the same notched bust line that we see on Bob’s painted lady and the hollow cut man cut by William M.S. Doyle. The painted silhouette has notched buttons which are similar to those cut by Mrs. Sarah Harrington (active in England about 1774-1787).

Through his advertisements we know that Doyle sold painted silhouettes, hollow cut silhouettes and full color portrait miniatures at least as early as 1806. In 1806 he would have been 37 years old. It is unlikely that an artist with the outstanding talent of Doyle would have waited until he was 37 years old to start working as an artist. I expect that Doyle worked as a professional silhouettist and portrait artist from around 1785.

We know that he studied the English silhouettists because he advertised that he painted miniatures “on plaster in the manner of the celebrated Miers of London.” I think it likely that the 18th century painted man and Bob’s painted lady were both done by Doyle in the manner of the English silhouettists that he studied and with the outstanding quality of his full color portrait miniatures."