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Pole, Thomas (McKechnie Section 2)

Recorded by Jackson (Dictionary) and by Foskett. There is also an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. Pole was born in Philadelphia, the son of John Pole, of Wivelscombe, Somerset. By 1802 he was in England, and developed an extensive medical practice in Bristol, where he also started the Adult School Movement. He adopted the Quaker persuasion. He is believed to have been an amateur painter, especially of landscapes and architectural subjects, as well as a painter of a few silhouettes. One of these is the fine obituary silhouette print of Martha Barrett (illustrated) which he executed on 18 November 1822. He died in Bristol.

C ü.


A brief account of some aspects of Dr Pole's silhouette work, written by H. Stuart Thompson, appeared in the Bristol Times and Mirror (30 January 1925): ‘I found in one of the old albums of the late Miss H. N. Metford, who lived at Failand House, several very small miniatures by him in Indian ink and sepia. One sheet of these is signed T. Pole, M.D. Delin. aetat. 71. Bristol 1st. Month, 1825. Four of these careful little drawings are only an inch high by 11/2 in. broad.'

It seems unlikely that ordinary bust-length silhouettes by Dr Pole would be found outside scrapbooks compiled by persons known to him, such as the album described by Thompson.

The obituary silhouette print may have been engraved by Dr Pole himself, as it does not bear the engraver’s name. The scattered objects shown

beneath the hexagonal border include a palette, books, a sewing-box and a pot-plant; no doubt these illustrate Martha Barrett's interests. The background,

showing a church and a pagoda, may suggest that she lived in a substantial house. The silhouette itself (slightly larger than those described by Thompson) appears to have been well painted; the transparency of the cap was probably shown on the original by thinned pigment. The artist's competence as a painter of landscape and architectural subjects is shown in this piece, which it is interesting to compare with a similar example (illustrated) by F. Fergusson (q.v.).


The print is framed in gilt wood, with acanthus leaf inner edge, and rosettes (possibly of gesso) in the corners.

Dr Pole seems normally to have signed his work, sometimes adding his age. The illustrated example is signed 'T. Pole, M.D. delin. 18 Nov. 1822.'

Ill. 904

Martha Barrett
Obituary silhouette print, probably engraved by Pole
Date of original silhouette: 18 November 1822
14 x 8in./356 x 204mm.
Frame: oval, giltwood, with acanthus leaf design on the inner edges and rosettes in the corners


Signed ‘T. Pole, M. D. delin., 18 Nov. 1822’.


M. A. H. Christie collection