Cracknell, W. W.

Date and place of birth:
bapt. 18.10.1768, St. Martins, Birmingham, Warks.
Date and place of death:
dec. 08.10.1860, 26 Nicholas Street, Scarborough, Yorks
(fl) 1796
Known places of work:
Possibly Scarborough
Known techniques:
Painted on card
Known materials:
Oval pressed brass


William Willis Cracknell is known for a single skilfully painted profile of King George III. Executed in tones of gray, highlighted with gum arabic, the work is, curiously, signed twice on the reverse in a neat cursive hand "Drawn by W.W.Cracknell, July 16 1796". The profile is illustrated in McKechnie's British Silhouette Artsts and their Work 1760-1860.

McKechnie suggested Cracknell may have been a minor miniaturist who painted "stock" silhouettes of George III. In fact, recent research has discovered Cracknell to be a jeweller and silversmith.

Aged 33, he married at St.Georges Hanover Square, London, and is recorded as of the parish. However, no other record of him in London has surfaced though it is probable a Joseph Cracknell, a goldsmith of Dean Street Soho, was a relative. Without more information surfacing, exactly where Cracknell was working when he painted the King's profile, will remain unresolved.

It may be that Cracknell was already established in the fashionable Yorkshire resort of Scarborough. Two of his daughters were buried there in 1809 and 1813. The earliest Visitors' Guides from the 1820s list him as a Jeweller, Silversmith, Fancy Warehouseman and Ship Owner. His obituary in the YORKSHIRE GAZETTE (13.10.1860) states Cracknell, aged 93, was "...the oldest tradesman in the town as well as one of its oldest and most respected inhabitants".

Revised 6 July 2022 (Brian Wellings)

Additional research about W. W. Cracknell:

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

Cracknell, W. W. (McKechnie Section 2)