December Studio Days from Battenham to Barber

I’ve arranged six more studio days for December 2020.

Each is named after a historical artist. These are a few silhouettists whose names begin begin with the letter ‘B’. You can book sittings here and read about the artists below.

Virtual Studio Days in December

Sunday 6th December

Mary Barrett Studio Day

Sittings from 6pm to midnight

Saturday 12th December

G. Batenham Studio Day

Sittings from 3pm to 9pm UK time

Sunday 20th December

C. Beach Studio Day

Sittings from noon – 6pm UK time

Tuesday 8th December

Baj.B Studio Day

Sittings from noon to 6pm UK time

Sunday 13th December

Lajos Bálint Studio Day

Sittings from 9am to 3pm UK time

Tuesday 29th December

C.L. Barber Studio Day

Sittings from 3pm to 9pm UK time

Here are the artists I’ named my studio days after this monh.

Just to avoid any confusion, this does not mean I’ll be cutting silhouettes in the style of these artists! I’ll cut your silhouettes in my own style, of which there are many examples all over this website.

However, if you’d like me to cut your portraits in the manner of any artist please ask. I always love a challenge!

Baj.B: the Lido Beach silhouettist

Bay B is one of my favourite silhouettists. I’ve learned a lot from looking at the best of their silhouettes (I’ve no idea whether Baj was male or female, so will use the non-gendered third person). They was meticulous about labelling their silhouettes.

Three silhouettes in a row
A series of Lido Beach silhouettes, each stuck to a printed postcard with a different photo of Lido Beach. So far I’ve seen eight versions of this card, but suspect there are many more.

The silhouettes I’ve collected come with a bewildering variety of stamps and printed labels, most  of which identify the artist as either “Baj. B”, “Bay B.”or simply “Baj”. I’ve no idea what the second “B” stands for, but they used the name in Baj Italy and Bay in France. 

Stamps with dates from 1907 to 1924
Some of the many stamps and labels used by Baj to identify their silhouettes.

The little I know about the artist comes from looking at the silhouettes.  These tell me that Baj was probably Italian and spent a number of years in the early 1920s cutting silhouettes on the fashionable Lido Beach in Venice. The earliest Baj silhouettes I’ve seen date from 1907 and were cut at an exhibition in Bordeaux, France. There are also a number of undated silhouettes which could have been cut anywhere in Europe around this time. 

Baj silhouettes vary from mediocre to truly extraordinary. Many of them include delicate pencil shading at the back the collars. Although I’ve never seen an unlabelled Baj silhouette, I know this would be a sure way to attribute it if I did. 

There’s a silhouette in my collection I call the “Peaky Blinders” cutting . It’s one of those few silhouettes I look at and immediately know I couldn’t do that. The small scale and intricate collar cutting would be beyond me at a live event. 

Silhouette of a man with moustache, spectacles and cap facing left/
This lively cutting of a young man in cloth cap and wing-collar shirt reminds me of a character from Peaky Blinders! It shows Baj at their best – the neat and inventive cutting of the wing collar is truly wonderful.

This, of course, is the real reason I collect these unknown artists. Every so often, they teach me something new. Baj B is just such an artist. 

Further information about Baj.B

  • None available (please contact me if you have any)

Lajos Bálint (Louis Valentine): unknown Budapest street artist

In 2015 I came across a set of silhouettes cut in Budapest, one of which carries a stamp saying : “Bálint Lajos, B’pest, Csányi-u”. Google translates the name of the artist as Louis Valentine, while Csányi-u is the name of a street in Budapest. 

Four silhouettes facing each other
The only labelled set of silhouettes by Bálint I’ve ever seen. The woman top left carries an imprint of the double silhouette below.

This little snippet of information is all I can tell you about this unknown Budapest street artist. The silhouettes are undated, but look like they were cut in the 1900s or perhaps early 1920s.

The silhouettes came as a set and clearly show the same couple (or could it be a mother and son?) However, I’m guessing they were cut on different days as the woman is wearing  a different hat in each. 

One of the cards carries a printed “ghost” image of the other. This happens when silhouettes are kept pressed face-to-face in an envelope for many years. However, the “ghost” is back to front (it should be a mirror image, but is not). This tells me there is a copy of the double silhouette somewhere, mounted the other way around.

Like many artists of the day, Bálint was apparently in the habit of cutting duplicate copies of each silhouette, which he then mounted on different cards facing in opposite directions.

If you know anything more about this artist please to get in touch. 

Further information about Lajos Bálint

  • None available (please contact me if you have any)

C.L. Barber: the Schiero Chiratomist

Charles Louis Barber seems to have cut freehand silhouettes al over England during the 1820s and early 30s.  Coming originally from Margate he later moved to the West Country, living in various locations in Devon and Cornwall. An advertisement placed in aa 1822 Norwich newspaper indicates he was in the habit of travelling around the country. 

The one silhouette I’ve seen, albeit in reproduction, looks rather good. It’s a single-line scissor cutting, indicating that it was cut fast. If cut freehand (which I assume it was) it was years ahead of its time. 

Silhouette of a woman in a bonnet facing left
Unknown woman by C.L. Barber, c.1820, from the artist’s duplicate albums

This silhouette is reproduced by Sue McKecknie and seems to have come from  one of the artist’s duplicate albums. The album was somehow acquired by a dealer in the US who broke it up and sold the silhouettes individually. He printed a label for them  which claims that Barber cut his silhouettes freehand with scissors in just 10 seconds (a feat I cannot match).

I don’t think this silhouette, with its collar and bonnet ribbons, was cut anything like that fast, but it is an interesting silhouette.

In 1834 Barber ended up in prison for debt. This may explain why he had to sell off his duplicate albums, which cannot have been an easy decision.

If you possess a C.L. Barber silhouette in your family, whether an original or one of his repackaged duplicates, do get in touch as I’d love to see it. 

Further information about C.L. Barber

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