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Bryan, John

Date and place of birth:
Date and place of death:
(fl) 1786-1795
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Painted plaster
Known materials:


John Bryan is known more as a miniaturist who had a particular interest in producing ‘sea pieces’. To date there are only two known examples of silhouette work by this artist, both female sitters painted on plaster. However, Bryan’s technique appears to have been quite unique amongst those who worked with plaster.

John Bryan was living at 34 Stationer’s Court, Ludgate Street, London in 1795. Nothing else is known about his life. His silhouette work may have been a sideline to his apparently more prolific work as a miniaturist. Only two examples of his silhouette work have been found. Both are in a pearwood frame, with a verre églomisé surround consisting of a plain gold band edged with thin black fines. Two trade labels are known, which simply describe his profile work as “taken in a new and Approved Style”, and place him in London

His surviving silhouettes are not painted in plain black; the details of cap, hair and clothing are well shown in transparency. A singular feature, unusual among artists who worked on plaster, is the use of needle to show the lines of dress and cap. The bustline is the common convexity/concavity type, the truncation of the arm at the back of the silhouette showing a blunt peak. John Bryan’s work is detailed and accomplished, and he is still of interest to collectors today.

Additional research about John Bryan:

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

Bryan, John (McKechnie Section 4)