Collins, Mrs

Date and place of birth:
Bapt. 05 January 1744, Bath
Date and place of death:
After, 1784
fl. 1776 to 1784
Known places of work:
Extensively across England, Scotland and Ireland
Known techniques:
Presumed hollow cut, painted on paper, used Mrs Harrington’s patent 'Delineator'
Known materials:
Paper, card
Presumably oval ebonized wood, pressed brass, etc.
Not Recorded


Mrs. Collins was baptised Ann Shillard in 1744 and married Bath-born actor, mimic and satirical poet John Collins (1742 - 1808) in the city in 1768.
During 1776 she became pupil and assistant to pioneering travelling profilist Mrs. Sarah Harrington and the same year seemingly purchased a half share of Mrs. Harrington’s patented Delineator. Their association was brief. Working independently from January 1777, Mrs. Collins began promoting her own endeavours as “far superior” to those of her former tutor.
Her first advertisement was placed in Birmingham in January 1777, her last in Norwich in November 1784. Newspapers locate her in various towns in England, Scotland and Ireland, several record her offering profiles in theatres where her husband was performing on stage. Recent research discovered Mrs. Elizabeth Hudson, another Bath-born profilist and contemporary of Ann Collins, did the same.
Though Mrs. Harrington maintained a price of 2s.6d. per profile, by 1783 Ann Collins was offering “Side Likenesses in Miniature Portrait framed for 1 Guinea…” and miniatures for bracelets from 1 to 3 Guineas. As neither woman signed their works, it is a reasonable supposition that an unknown number of hollow-cut profiles attributed to Mrs. Harrington are by her former pupil and rival.
The OXFORD DICTIONARY of NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY entry for John Collins states his wife, a “noted beauty”, died after an operation for breast cancer. However no footnote or date is given, and where and when she died has eluded research.
Revised 4 April 2022 (Brian Wellings)

Additional research about Mrs Collins:

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

Collins, Mrs (McKechnie Section 1)