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Cavallo, Tiberius

Date and place of birth:
1749, Naples, Italy
Date and place of death:
1809, place unknown
(fl) 1798
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Cut paper
Known materials:


Initially a physicist, and philosopher, interested in the technique of reproducing silhouettes, Tiberius Cavallo is thought to have invented a device for first reducing and then taking profiles. His device was capable of delineating full and bust length silhouettes. As a profilist he is closely linked with James Lind, with whom he worked in collaboration.

The son of a physician, at an early age Cavallo left his native Italy and settled in England. He was the inventor of several ingenious pieces of apparatus for electrical and chemical experiments, and was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1779. An author of many publications, in later life he devoted much of his time to the use of electricity as a curative agent.

Cavallo’s work as a profilist was not undertaken as a commercial activity, more of a hobby, with the aim to produce profiles of his scientific circle and eminent contemporaries. His painted work is not of particularly high standard. One example is of the Impey family, an eminent family based in Sussex. It is an indoor scene painted full length, in Indian ink on paper, showing eleven members of the family, their dog and a piano. The painting is inscribed on the reverse and the names of the members of the family are recorded on the back of the frame. Overall, the composition is somewhat cramped, and the details not very faithfully or artistically rendered. His cut work is of average standard for the time. Cavallo is believed to have invented a machine for delineating profiles, mentioned in correspondence. However, no concrete evidence of this exists.

Additional research about Tiberius Cavallo:

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

Cavallo, Tiberius (McKechnie Section 1)
Cavallo, Tiberius (McKechnie Section 2)