Betts, Mr and Mrs

Gender:
Male/Female
Date and place of birth:
Unknown
Date and place of death:
Unknown
Worked:
(fl) presumed 1840-1850
Known places of work:
Shipstone-on-Sour
Known techniques:
Cut paper
Known materials:
Paper
Frames:
Unknown
Signature:
Mrs Betts recorded, Mr Betts not recorded

Introduction:

Jackson records Betts as a cutter who claimed to have made a “newly-invented Machine for reducing the Life-Shadow”. She also records his wife Mrs Betts, who painted greyish black profiles and appears to have done cut work. There seem to have been many artistic members of the Betts family, who worked in silhouette and miniature.

The Betts family were been based in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. Knowledge of Mr Betts comes mainly from an undated handbill. He is described as a well-travelled artist, who worked prolifically in London and Bath. He offered cut and coloured profiles decorated with bronzing, miniatures on ivory, and lessons in “Oriental and Mezzo tinting”. Jackson (Dictionary) also mentions his wife Mrs Betts who painted profiles. In the Patton collection, there is a cut full-length profile signed “Betts, 1847” in the style of Mrs Betts, so it can be assumed she also cut. Foskett describes a coloured miniature dated 1830-1840 and signed “Miss Betts, artist from Shipton.” However, there are no other surviving examples of work by the Betts family, and no trade labels have been recorded.

Typical of the period, Mr Betts used a machine to produce his silhouettes. This machine was apparently of unique design and very high quality. His handbill describes how he could rapidly produce a “Striking Likeness” in “beautifully coloured miniatures”. Mr Betts actively encouraged families with children to sit for him by offering to represent the children at their favourite pursuits, and claimed to be rather skilled at family groups. However, it is difficult to judge due to the lack of surviving examples. The one piece positively attributed to Mrs Betts is cut in a relatively accomplished if plain style. Her paint work is described by Jackson as similar in style, painted greyish black with detail worked in heavy black lines.

Additional research about Mr and Mrs Betts:

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

Betts, Mr and Mrs (McKechnie Section 1)
Betts, Mr and Mrs (McKechnie Section 6)