Allport, William

Date and place of birth:
Bapt. 11 September 1779, Aston, Birmingham
Date and place of death:
24 June1831, Church Alley, Liverpool
fl. ca. 1806 - 1830
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Painted on card and paper. Used 'Physiognotrace Machine'
Known materials:
Paper, card
Papier-mache, turned pearwood & pressed brass


Christened William Twigg Allport, son of a Birmingham gunsmith, he was the only one of seven sons not to become an arms maker. A competent, consistently neat profilist, Allport’s distinctive style is easily attributable. He worked solely in Liverpool. 
As a profilist, his name was lost to history until an auction lot was discovered in 1969 bearing his handwritten trade label, and the signature motif of a double shadow below the sitter’s bust line, as seen on profiles bearing the printed trade label of commercial museum proprietor William Bullock. Till then, commentators assumed the works were by Bullock himself. However, with the above discovery, it was accepted the profiles bearing Bullock’s labels were painted by Allport in house, at Bullock’s Museum, between 1806-09.
McKechnie suggests the museum engaged other artists though, as far as known, Bullock’s labelled works are all by Allport’s hand. When the museum moved to London in 1809, it appears Allport may have acquired the business’s ‘Physiognotrace’ machine. Used to trace a sitter’s outline, he mentions employing one on his own handwritten label.
Between 1802-31, Directories/Church Registers variously record Allport as an Artist and from 1810 a Furniture Broker or Artist. His abodes, 1801-1829, were in Stanley Street, Liverpool’s centre for Furniture Brokers. Both occupations were probably pursued in tandem; though, with the city’s expansion, demand for furniture likely proved more remunerative than irregular commissions for profile portraiture.
Revised 4 April 2022

Additional research about William Allport:

Source: McKechnie (Author of, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860)

Allport, William (McKechnie Section 2)

Source: Joll (Hon. Secretary of the Silhouette Collectors Club and Editor of the Club's newsletter)

Allport, William (SCC Newsletter April 2011)

Source: Wellings (Silhouette collector and Contributing Editor)

Allport, William (Recent research, April 2022)

Gallery Silhouettes

Front of silhouette, in frame, with man looking right, wearing a stock.Front of Silhouette, in frame, with woman looking leftFront of silhouette, in frame, with man looking left, wearing a stock.