c 1790 Captain John Stuart Silhouette Portrait by John Miers
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c. 1790 British Naval Hero Captain John Stuart (1774 - 1811), Framed Silhouette Portrait by John Miers (1756-1821), of London, Framed, Choice Extremely Fine.
c. 1790 Beautiful Silhouette Portrait of Captain John Stuart, facing right, Hand-crafted by British artist John Miers. This artwork is protected under period convex glass and housed in an original black painted wood frame with top loop for hanging on display, to an overall size of 6” x 5.” The Portrait measures 2.5” tall and has some shading that enhances the Silhouette portrait. The subject is not identified within the portrait, yet the attribution comes from our consignor and matches other images of this beloved and famed British Naval Captain who died at age 36.
The Portrait appears perfect. Its period frame has some trivial bottom edge chipping which is well hidden. The frame’s reverse has original Maker’s Printed Paper Advertisement for Miers, who styled himself as a “Profile Painter & Jeweler” at III Strand, in London. The integrity of the paper was damaged when a previous owner removed the portrait for inspection. Still, most of the advertisement printing remains legible as shown. John Stewart (1774 - 1811), Sailor:
In the window splay of the north nave aisle in Westminster Abbey is a white marble monument to Captain John Stewart.
The mural tablet consists of decorations of flags, an anchor and naval trophies, with a turban and crescent at the top. John was in active service for many years and is said to have sailed round the world with Captain Vancouver.
His humanity to his prisoners earned the respect of the Turks. The inscription is by Mr Adair with whom Stewart was associated in arranging the "peace of the Dardanelles":
To the memory of John Stewart, Esquire, Captain in the Royal Navy, son of William Stewart, Esquire, of Castlestewart in Wigtownshire, and Euphemia daughter of Lord Fortrose. He entered the Navy at an early age, and distinguished himself in every rank and branch of the service; particularly when in command of the Seahorse of 38 guns, with which single ship he totally defeated a Turkish squadron and captured the Badere Zaffer carrying 52 guns.
He died in London on the 25th of October 1811 aged 36 years. The knowledge, decision and coolness which he displayed as an officer, won him the confidence of all who served with him; the gaiety and cheerfulness of his temper, the frankness of his disposition, and the warmth and goodness of his heart, rendered him the delight of all who approached him, and made his death an equal loss to private society and to his country.
His gravestone in the centre of the nave was removed in the 19th century when the floor there was re-laid but it read:
“Here lies the body of Captain John Stewart of the Regent, son of the late William Stewart Esq. of Castle Stewart, county of Wigtown, Scotland; and of Euphemia Mackenzie, sixth daughter of the late Lord Fortrose, who departed this life on the 25th of October 1811, aged 36 years.”
A small stone with his name and date now marks his grave.
Artist John Miers (1756-1821) was the most famous profilist or painter of silhouettes in Britain. Born in Leeds, he established a business first in Edinburgh, and operated in various Northern towns before setting up studios in The Strand, London around 1788. Here he operated a very successful business recording customers profiles in "3 minute sittings". His miniatures were produced on ivory or plaster and feature delicate shading to show detail of the hair and clothes. The sitter's face was recorded as a black silhouette.
In 1785, Miers wrote on the back of one of his images promoting the process: “preserves the most exact Symmetry and animated expression of the Features, much Superior to any other Method. Time of sitting one minute. N.B. He keeps the original Shades, and can supply those he has once taken with any number of Copies. Those who have Shades by them may have them reduced to any Size, and dress’d in the present taste.
Miers specialty was painting unrelieved black on plaster. His name was first mentioned in the London Directory of 1792.
At the end of his life in 1821, Miers is considered to have amassed 100,000 profiles in his studio.