Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Edmund Kershaw (1702 - 1741) c.1720 1720c.

Marcellus Laroon, attributed to 

Edmund Kershaw (1702 - 1741) c.1720, Marcellus Laroon, attributed to
Oil on canvas
18th Century
30 x 25 inches 76 x 63.5 cm
Label verso: Portrait of Edmund Kershaw 1701-1742 -a chased plate worker in London/ the snuffbox in his hand the top of chased plate work to signify his business/ this on authority of J.C.M./ 18361

Portraits of early modern craftsmen are notoriously rare, and named examples are rarer still. It is interesting, therefore, to encounter a portrait such as this in which the sitter is identified and is depicted holding an item representative of his trade.

By the apparent age of the sitter it appears that this portrait was painted at the end of Kershaw's apprenticeship, and may well have been commissioned to celebrate that fact. Whether the sitter or -more probably- a patron engaged the painter cannot be known, but portraits in this circumstance are not unknown.

Chase plate workers were not silversmiths, and as such were not members of the Silversmiths Company. Their trade was in the decoration of gold and silver items, such as the lid of the snuffbox that Kershaw is holding as a token of his talent, and they worked either in association with silversmiths or with the tradesmen who sold the finished items.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.