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A fine portrait of an Gentleman, possibly William Pitt


Wearing a navy blue suit, white waistcoat and tied cravat, his powdered hair en queue
set in the original beautiful gold fausse montre frame, the seed pearl-set bezel and blue enamel border picked out with gold paillons , locks of brown hair tied with diamonds within bold beads and further blue glass

In 1760 Charles's father, Alexander, a wealthy Edinburgh merchant, approached Thomas Braidwood (1715 - 1806) the
owner of a mathematical school and asked him to educate his ten-year old deaf son, with a view to his learning to write. Braidwood set up what was to become the first school in Britain. The school was known as Braidwood's Academy for the Deaf and Dumb, and is mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's novel, The Heart of Midlothian.

Shirreff had no understandable speech in later life, and had to rely on sign language or writing for communication purposes. It is remarkable to see how talented an artist he became as is evident by this powerful yet expressive portrait. It is not certain who the sitter is but his wealth is clearly shown in the very elaborate frame.
More Information
Year                 Circa 1795
Literature                 The Comerford Collection: Portrait Miniatures, (Dublin, privately published, 2009) pp 10, 53 (#223.)
Exhibition                 Comerford Collection at the Irish Architectural Archives in Dublin, in 2009
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