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Beetham, Isabella, Mrs (McKechnie Section 6)

See Section Three for main entry

Mills illustrates a profile, almost in half-length, of a Miss Foote, ascribed to Mrs Beetham, painted on glass with the sitter's features fully depicted in stippling and with clothing detail shown. This was in due course sold from the Sutcliffe Smith collection by Blairman of London in 1948; it was described in the sale catalogue as 'a rare silhouette, painted on glass, fine work, backed with silk and with lace cap and collar'. I have not seen this profile and do not know whether it was signed.

The sitter's costume (especially the extreme height of the waistline) indicates that the profile was probably taken in c. 1814. This is a very late date for any commercial work by Mrs Beetham. On the other hand, the profile does not closely resemble any authenticated portrait by Mrs Beetham's daughter Jane Read. It was not customary, moreover, for either Mrs Beetham or her daughter to back their work with silk. The profile is, in fact, much more similar in style to the work of C. H. Hudson (q.v.) than to that of any other silhouette artist; Hudson, who did back his work with silk, may well have been in practice when the profile of Miss Foote was painted, for the one known signed example of his work is dated May 1815. Hudson, like Mrs Beetham, painted work in half-length. Although I have recorded this profile as Mrs Beetham's work the possible attribution (if it is unsigned) to C. H. Hudson should be considered; Hudson's work only came to light during the early 1970s.

The profile is painted against a stippled base not obviously produced by fingerprinting. The sitter's features are less well moulded than on profiles by Lea, whose work this profile resembles in other respects. Strong lines are used to indicate the nose, eye and mouth, but there is no additional hatching on the face, such as is seen on Jane Read's work of the same date.

Jackson (Dictionary) illustrates a portrait miniature in full colour, painted on ivory, by Mrs Beetham.

Ill. 1523

1523 ?
Miss Foote
Profile painted on glass in line in black on a stippled base
c. 1814
2 ¾ x 2 ¼ in./70 x 58mm.
Frame: papier mâché


Ascribed to Mrs Beetham by Mills, but possibly by C. H. Hudson.


Weymer Mills, ‘One Hundred Silhouettes from the Wellesley Collection’ (1912), by courtesy of the Oxford University Press