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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

MacKenzie family silhouette, 1846

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
Gift of the Estate of Nancy Wiseman 2007

Accession number: 2007.36

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Samuel Metford (age 36 in 1846)

Mrs Edwards

Maria Mackenzie (age 4 in 1846)

Francis Mackenzie (age 36 in 1846)

Caroline Jane Mackenzie (age 9 in 1846)

John Mackenzie (age 13 in 1846)

Walter Faulkes Mackenzie (age 11 in 1846)

William Mackenzie (age 1 in 1846)

Kenneth Mackenzie

Francis Mackenzie (age 40 in 1846)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

MacKenzie family silhouette, 1846 Samuel Metford
MacKenzie family silhouette, 1846 Samuel Metford
MacKenzie family silhouette, 1846 Samuel Metford
MacKenzie family silhouette, 1846 Samuel Metford

All there in black and white

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

The National Portrait Gallery acquired a beguiling silhouette group portrait by Samuel Metford, an English artist who spent periods of his working life in America.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist

Husbands and Wives

Photographic Portraits from 19th Century Australia

Previous exhibition, 2010

'I have just been to my dressing case to take a peep at you.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.