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Barber, Charles Louis (McKechnie Section 1)

Recorded by Jackson (Dictionary), with the date 1820. She quotes the following advertisement (1823), presumably from a Norwich newspaper: 'Striking peculiarity of genius. The Nobility, Gentry, and Inhabitants of Norfolk are respectfully informed that Mr. C. L. Barber, Schiero Chiratomist to His Majesty, celebrated for his extraordinary talent in the delineation of the human face and figure, animals, and every variety of natural or artificial object on paper, without Drawing or Machine, in a manner peculiar to himself. Will shortly visit Yarmouth.' In my collection is a labelled silhouette, formerly in a collection in the United States, which appears to be an example taken from a book of duplicates kept by Barber as a record of his output. This book had probably been acquired by a collector in the United States who framed some of the duplicates and backed them with a specially printed label, which tells us that Barber cut freehand in ten seconds only. The fullest information about Barber is an announcement in The West Briton, published on 21 February, 1834, at a time when the artist was in prison for debt: 'CHARLES LOUIS BARBER, formerly of Margate. Kent, then of Plymouth, and then of Devonport, Devon, and then of St Austle [sic], Cornwall, and late of East Teignmouth, in the county of Devon, Landscape Painter and Pictorial Paper Cutter'.

C. L. may have been identical with M. S. Barber (q.v.), or with an artist named Barber who later worked at the Adelaide Gallery (q.v.).

Barber evidently worked freehand, cutting duplicates from black paper. In this field he is more competent than W. Seville, but less gifted than Edouart. Frills and hair shaping are well shown, and he took much trouble over rendering eyelashes. The advertisement makes it clear that Barber cut full-length profiles and profiles of animals.

Comparison with the advertisement suggests that the passage between quotation marks on the label may have been taken from an original trade label

279
Unknown woman
Cut silhouette; duplicate from the artist’s record book
c. 1820
Height of image: 23/8in./61mm
Frame: giltwood

 

Author’s collection