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MacKenzie family silhouette
, 1846

by Samuel Metford

brush and ink, pen and ink, stencil cut-out with watercolour highlights (frame: 46.6 cm x 67.0 cm, support: 43.2 cm x 64.0 cm)

Samuel Metford (1810–1896), specialised in full-length silhouette likenesses on hand-painted watercolour backgrounds, sometimes embellished with gold and white paint or featuring gentrified interiors. Born in Glastonbury, Somerset, he received tuition from French silhouette artist Augustin Edouart, before going to America and working for the next ten years in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. His return to England in the mid-1840s coincided with the downturn in demand for profile portraits occasioned by photography which, by the 1860s, had rendered art forms such as the silhouette passé. This silhouette depicts the family of Francis MacKenzie (1806–1851, seated far right) at Adlington Hall in Standish, Lancashire. Following Francis MacKenzie’s death, his widow, Maria (1810–1874, third from left) emigrated to Australia with her five children. Maria’s eldest son, John (1833–1917, seated, left, at the table), was Examiner of Coalfields in the Illawarra from 1863 and 1865, later becoming Examiner of Coalfields for NSW. Her sons Walter (1835–1886, seated, right, at the table) and Kenneth (d. 1903) are thought to have become clergymen. Her youngest daughter, Maria (1842– 1917, second from left), married a doctor, Alexander Morson, in 1875. Another daughter, Caroline (1837–1922, fourth from left), remained unmarried and died at the family property near Dapto in 1922. Other sitters shown in the silhouette are Maria’s mother, Mrs Thomas Edwards (far left); and her youngest child, William, who died, aged six, in 1851. Maria MacKenzie died at Wallerawang in New South Wales in 1874. The silhouette was bequeathed to the Gallery by her great-grandaughter in 2007.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the Estate of Nancy Wiseman 2007
Accession number: 2007.36