Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The 42 lots of silhouettes that opened the auction comprised the usual mix of profiled bust portraits, full-length military and civilian subjects, but there was also a couple of more unusual entries.

One was an album of cut paper silhouette conversation pieces by Miss Anne Francklin; finely detailed single-sheet studies of society ladies and children engaged in various leisure pursuits.

Highly interesting from a socio-historical standpoint, but unlike single silhouettes, a difficult thing to display, it ended up selling shy of expectations at £1500. The other was the 51/2in (14cm) high early Victorian study of a poodle pictured below. Signed and dated Frith ’42 probably for H.A. Frith from the family of silhouettists of that name, who operated as the Royal Victoria Gallery, the profile was executed in bronzed cut-out card on a watercolour background and contained in a maple frame.

By contrast to people, canine subjects are rare and the piece comfortably exceeded expectations at £900.

Wax silhouettes are another category that appears all too rarely at auction, especially in any quantity, so the 18 lots offered here, half from a single source, the Hall collection, constituted something of a event.

This is, however, a very specialised market with relatively little crossover to miniature collectors. “There are very few serious wax collectors out there,” said Bonhams’ specialist Emma Rutherford.

In the event, two thirds of them found buyers – the most expensive being a particularly large 7in (18cm) high profile by Richard Cockle Lucas of John Bullar.

Amongst the miniatures, Emma Rutherford noted the continuing growth of interest in enamels. Hitherto seen as the less desirable than the more freely executed painted miniatures, examples in good condition are now increasingly sought out. A portrait of the young Queen Victoria attributed to William Essex after the original by William Fowler fetched £1100, while a study of Edward VI saw its attribution to Henry Bone confirmed by a treble-estimate £1200.

Appealing portraits of young children are usually surefire hits in this field and at this event one provided the sale with its highest price of £5000.

The portrait depicted an unidentified young girl in a white dress with a mauve sash. Bonhams had catalogued it as attributed to Edward Burch and given it a modest £700-900 estimate, but Emma Rutherford retrospectively reckoned the price confirmed it as the artist’s handiwork. Other points in the miniature’s favour, she added, were its market freshness, the good condition plus the original frame with plaited hair surround, plus the fact that the young sitter sported a straw hat.