BIRCH, Rev Samuel (1780?–1848). Painted silhouette by Foster 1832

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BIRCH, Rev Samuel (1780?–1848). Painted silhouette in red with gold highlights of a gentleman, signed Foster Pinx 1832, mounted in a papier-mâché frame 5.5 x 6.5 inches with decorative oval brass window surround and brass hanger. On the reverse is a shield shaped paper label inscribed in ink “Rev Samuel Birch”. The varnish shows craquelure around the lower jaw and coat.

The Revd Samuel Birch was the son of Samuel Birch (1757–1841), politician, playwright, and pastrycook, who had been lord mayor of London in 1814–15. Samuel Birch junior (born about 1780) matriculated from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1798, graduated B.A. in the mathematical tripos in 1802, gained the second member's prize for a Latin essay, and was elected a fellow of his college. He proceeded M.A. in 1803, and D.D. in 1828, and was for a time professor of geometry in Gresham College, London. He became rector of St Mary Woolnoth, London and later a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral and vicar of Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He married Margaret, daughter of William Browning, of Woburn Place, London, and their first son was the famous Egyptologist Samuel Birch (1813–1885), keeper of the department of oriental antiquities in the British Museum.

Edward Foster (1762-1864) was born in Derby and was to join the army, seeing extensive active service overseas, including service under General Cornwallis in the final phase of the War of American Independence. He began a career as an artist in the early 19th century with bases in both Derby and London. He soon specialised as a painter of silhouettes, and is particularly well known for his red painted silhouettes, as this example.

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