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Barrett, Mary, Miss

Date and place of birth:
Date and place of death:
(fl) Late 18th century
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Cut paper
Known materials:
Pearwood and papier-mache


Miss Mary Barrett was a London-based artist, known for her paintings of still life, birds and miniatures as well as silhouettes. As a relatively accomplished artist and the daughter of a Royal Academian, she was able to take the silhouettes of high profile individuals.

Believed to be the daughter of George Barrett, RA, Miss Barrett lived in London with her brother but would often tour the country to paint. Her higher social status allowed her to profile more distinguished individuals, including George Romney. One of her most successful pieces was the profile of Adam Duncan, a well-known naval officer. It is believed that Miss Barrett used both pearwood and papier-mâché to frame her work. It is not known if Miss Barrett used trade labels on her work.

Miss Barrett appears to be a reasonably skilled artist. In her advertisement she mentions the word “shaded”, implying the addition of extra detail to the clothes of the sitter. She skilfully used gum Arabic and worked on superfine wove vellum paper. McKechnie describes Miss Barrett’s work as “well painted”, distinguished by “firm delineation”. However, it is believed that she used a pantograph, as the sitting time for her silhouettes was only one minute.

Additional research about Miss Mary Barrett:

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

Barrett, Mary, Miss (McKechnie Section 2)