Le Baron Henri Scotford

Baron Scotford was an American Artist who came to England around 1912, after visiting various countries in Europe. You might think he had a title, but he was actually christened Le Baron! He remained many years in London, operating first from a studio in Regents St, and later from Crystal Palace. He returned to America before World War 2, where he set up a Snip Sketch Studio in Atlantic City, NJ.

Man (12k Jpeg) Lady (14k Jpeg)

Two silhouettes by Baron Scotford cut in London in 1934

Like his contemporary, Hubert Leslie, he made use of slash cuts to indicate highlights and details in clothing. Unlike Leslie he developed this slash cutting technique to a point where he cut his silhouettes almost to ribbons, and then somehow pushed them back into place when pasting them onto a card. These examples, from my collection, signed "London 1934", show this technique very clearly. The highlights have all been cut in from the outside of the paper. If you analyse all the cuts you can see that the whole silhouette stayed in one peice, but only by a thread I think! The detail is interesting, have a closer look.

Early Scotford (17k jpeg)

The cutting on the right is a much earlier example, cut in Brussels in 1911, before he arrived in London. I picked this up in an antique shop in Henley-on-Thames. In some ways I prefer this silhouette, although he hadn't yet evolved the intricate slash work that became the hallmark of this later work. This silhouette was actually cut in two peices, the head and body are serparate! I rather wonder if he didn't have a pile of "pre-cut" bodies, onto which he stuck heads as he cut them?

I get frequent e-mails from people who have a Scotford silhouette in their family. His work is always signed, which makes it easy to identify. People want to know if they are valuable. Well, unfortunately, not very. Scotford was nothing if not prolific, cutting literally hundreds of thousands of silhouettes over a career which spanned both world wars. I have heard rumours that he could cut through six sheets of paper at a time, making multiple copies of each silhouette! A feat that I certainly can't manage! The sheer quantity of his work means that many collectors suffer from "Scotford overload".

I did hear from Scotford's neice that a historian is researching for a book about his work. So maybe people will start to take more notice of him as time goes by.

Scotford Girl (18K jpeg)

Baron Scotford was rightly famous for his silhouettes of children. The girl on the left is a good example of this, although it's not so much to my taste. Looks a bit too sweet for my liking. In my experience children never behave like this when they are having their silhouette cut!

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©Charles Burns/www.roving-artist.com/The Edo Barn Site/silhouettes@me.com/This page was first created in September 1997 and last updated August 2012