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Bruce, I. or J. (McKechnie Section 2)

Recorded by Jackson (The History of Silhouettes); known from a series of prints of silhouettes, most of them of famous contemporary figures, published 1825-35. Extant examples are signed, below, 'I. Bruce'. Engraved either by the aquatint or stipple method, they are all full-length and similar in style. Since no other artist's name is given, it seems likely that the silhouettes after which they were engraved were by Bruce himself.

It is also likely that the artist was J. Bruce, an engraver in aquatint known to have been working at about this time and known in particular for his views of Brighton. The silhouette prints all bear either the address 85 Farringdon Street, London, or this address together with another, 3 Somerset Place, Brighton. This Brighton address strengthens the supposition that I. Bruce and J. Bruce were the same man.

Two of the prints are in Mrs Peggy Hickman's collection: one of William IV (silhouette taken no earlier than 1830) and one of the Duke of Wellington (silhouette taken during the early 1830s). Among examples in the British Museum are one of Henry Peter Brougham (1778-1868), First Baron Brougham and Vaux (after whom the type of carriage was named), and one of Charles, Earl Grey, Viscount Howick (1764-1845), who was Prime Minister in 1831 (silhouette apparently taken c. 1831, to judge from the sitter's clothes). Among examples in the National Portrait Gallery is the illustrated print of John, first Earl Russell (1792-1878), the statesman, orator and writer (silhouette taken in c. 1825). In the Fox-Smith collection there is a print after a silhouette of Daniel O'Connell.


This bears the words `Taken in the House of Commons during the Reform debate' and the London address. The silhouette must have been taken in 1832 (cf. Edouart's silhouette of O'Connell).


All the subjects of the surviving prints in this series are men, shown in full-length, either standing or seated, with suitable furniture and accessories. William IV sits, glass in hand, before a wine table with decanters; Lord Brougham, spectacles in hand, sits at his desk; the Duke of Wellington sits on an upright chair, his feet supported by another chair; Earl Grey stands before a table bearing an inkstand and a large scroll marked 'REPORT’; Daniel O'Connell is seated on a House of Commons bench. All these details are well shown.

The prints are signed (below, on the left) 'I. Bruce'; on the right, either the single address, or the two addresses, are printed. The sitter's name is printed below in capital letters, and a further inscription (as in the print of O'Connell) is also included. None of these silhouette prints that I have seen are dated, and it is not certain that they were all necessarily published in the years during which the original silhouettes were created (presumably by Bruce himself).

Ills. 694, 695

John, first Earl Russell
Silhouette print
c. 1825


Inscribed ‘I. Bruce’, with the address 85 Farringdon Street, and Somerset Place, Brighton.


National Portrait Gallery, London, No. 94 12


Daniel O’Connell
Silhouette print
6 x 5in./153 x 128 mm.


Inscribed: (left) ‘I. Bruce.’, )centre) ‘Taken in the House of Commons during the Reform debate’, (right) ’85 Farringdon Street.’


W. E. Fox-Smith collection