William Henry Brown (1808-1883), born in Charleston, was an unusual South Carolina artist, known for his portrait silhouettes. This is a self-portrait, illustrating a form of likeness that was popular in the early 19th century, before photography made portraits easier to obtain. Brown created his likenesses free hand, rather than using a tracing machine that transferred the profile of the sitter to paper. In 1845, Brown published the "Portrait Gallery of Distinguished American Citizens," a book which contained silhouettes of the celebrities of the 1840s posed against lithographic backgrounds. The advent of the camera put silhouettists like Brown out of fashion, and he went to work for the Huntington and Broadtop Railroad.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.