Field, John

Date and place of birth:
24 January 1772, London
Date and place of death:
18 December 1848, London
(fl) c 1772-1848
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Painted on card
Known materials:
Papier-mache & turned wood


The plethora of information regarding this artist is due to his popularity and skill, and also to his meticulous book-keeping. It is difficult to ascribe correct dates to his career as he first gained prominence working as an assistant to the celebrated John Miers, before branching out on his own. He is considered “One of the finest and most famous silhouette artists” (McKechnie).

Not only is Field’s birth date known, it is even known that his birth occurred at 4 o’clock in the morning! His wife, Mary Ann (1796 – 1857) was the daughter of the well-known Victorian painter Edmund T Parris. John and Mary Ann had four children, one of whom died in his first year. Field shared a number of trade labels with John Miers, the so-called Trade Labels No 11 and 12, produced his first in 1815 and would have six throughout his career. He framed in papier-mache and turned wood. John Field had a hugely successful and prolific career, apparently achieving royal appointment to Queen Adelaide and Princess Augusta 1830 – though evidence for this only comes from adverts.

Field’s profiles were generally bust-length, though at least two full-length portraits are extant. His silhouettes are mostly characterised by a consistent ‘dip’ at the back of bust-line terminations. On plaster, he chose almost always to paint in black, but on ivory sometimes used a particular bluish-black. In all mediums frills are represented by hatching. His delicate glass-work was executed in verre églomisé style. He preferred using gum arabic to gold though tiny lines, in his very fine work, were made using gilding. He produced consistently artistic bronzed work. Today John Field is considered second only to John Miers in English silhouette artistry.

Additional research about John Field:

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

Field, John (McKechnie Section 2)
Field, John (McKechnie Section 4)
Field, John (McKechnie Section 5)
Field, John (McKechnie Section 6)

Gallery Silhouettes

Front of Silhouette, in frame, with man looking rightFront of silhouette, in frame, with a woman looking right.Front of Silhouette, in frame, with man looking rightFront of silhouette, in frame, with woman looking left.Front of silhouette, in frame, with boy looking left, wearing a high necked collar.