Portrait miniatures reached their peak of popularity during the 18th century. They served the same purpose as small photographs of our loved ones do today. Their small size made them accessible for carrying around, and they were often mounted in lockets, brooches, like the one you see here.
There were many artists who specialized in portrait miniatures, but
the most famous of the British profilists wereJohn Miers and John Fields. John Miers was the elder of the two and he set up his own studio on the Strand in London in 1788. King George III and Queen Charlotte were two of his most famous sitters. Miers most famous protege was John Field, who came to apprentice for him in London in 1800 and inherited the business upon Miers’ death. Fields was largely responsible for most of the profiles enhanced with bronzing as this, along with intricate detailing, was his specialty. Of note is the fact that his profiles were often signed Miers. The Miers signature was indicative of a studio name, though that does not mean Miers painted them. Like other classical painters of his day, John Field worked in other mediums, including landscapes, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Our pendant, which doubles as a brooch, shows a right facing silhouette on ivory of an unknown woman. The antique bronzed silhouette portrait was executed by the firm of Miers & Field; it is not certain to which of the two artists we can attribute it. That this particular profile is signed Miers AND Fields, indicates it was most likely painted by Fields, who one would suppose wanted more acknowledgement as he became famous in his own right.
Observe how Fields frames his subjects, with the slight curvature to the back dipping down in front creating an elegant line and perfect space for a signature, which reads faintly, "Miers and Field", just below the shoulder.
The bronzing shown in our silhouette is a feature of John Field's style, another reason it is likely this silhouette was painted by him. (John Miers was actually critical of this style, as he felt that it was a departure from the true shadow. Nevertheless, John Field's had a style his own that added a beauty and dimension to his profiles; his skills were much sought after. and he was in high demand as a portrait artist.