Home Silhouette Henry Harrison, the Lisberg Silhouettist

Henry Harrison, the Lisberg Silhouettist


Buried in my assortment are various silhouettes by Henry Harrison (or Henri, as he referred to as himself when working in France). They date from 1906 to 1910 and present me that he labored in Roubaix, France; Brussels, Belgium and in Scheveningen, Holland. Harrison was an itinerant artist and fairly presumably labored in different components of northern Europe too.

Two silhouettes of women wearing hats, one with the caption 'Groten uit Scheveningen'
Two labelled silhouettes by Henry Harrison

Like many silhouettists of his technology its laborious to seek out extra. Chat GPT mentioned it thought he was born in England (he actually has an English-sounding title) however didn’t inform me the way it knew that, or present dates of his start or loss of life. I’ve no concept if Harrison ever minimize a silhouette in England!

Two postcard backs, once French and the other Dutch, used to mount silhouettes in the 1900s.
Printed labels on the reverse of two silhouettes minimize by Harrison in 1910 and 1906

Sadly, it’s a typical story. I’ve collected work by various silhouettists who have been reducing portraits within the 1900s and 1910s, however who appear to fade after the First World Struggle. It may very well be that they discovered one other profession and easily gave up reducing silhouettes. However, as artists from this era have been predominantly younger males, it’s laborious to not speculate that they have been referred to as as much as combat and didn’t survive the battle.

Blue gates, closed, with the word 'Liseberg' at the top.
The gate on the Liseberg resort

For that reason it got here as a pleasing shock once I obtained an enquiry to chop silhouettes on the one hundredth anniversary social gathering of the Liseberg resort in Gotenberg, Sweden this month. The shopper was planning a day of actions culminating in a gala dinner for all staff (some 500 of them) and was eager to e book a silhouette artist for the event. The explanation, as he defined to me, was that when the park opened in 1923 there was a silhouette artist referred to as Henry Harrison working there.

Charles in his long red jacket cutting a silhouette of a young lady. The sign above reads '1923'
Slicing silhouettes of Liseberg workers beneath the 1923 centenary signal

I used to be joyful to be taught that Harrison not solely survived the battle, however had continued to make silhouettes lengthy after it. Apparently there was a silhouettist working on the park proper up till the Nineteen Fifties or early 60s.

After some dialogue, the shopper booked each Michael Herbert and I to attend the occasion. I had suggested him that with 500 company he ought to take into account reserving at the least two artists. I took with me my small assortment of Henry Harrison silhouettes to point out to the shopper and anyone else who may be .

It was a protracted day. The occasion kicked off with a presentation in regards to the historical past of Liseberg. It was largely in Swedish however together with a brief Q&A about silhouettes and Henry Harrison which I took half in: brief, as a result of there actually could be very little recognized about him!

Michael in his grey-check suit cutting a silhouette with a small crowd on onlookers behind
Michael Herbert reducing silhouettes of Liseberg workers throughout a 100-year treasure hunt
Pink and white buildings at Liseberg under a dark blue sky
The spot at Liseberg the place Harrison as soon as had his silhouette stall

In preparation for this, the park’s historian had managed to seek out of their archives an previous {photograph} of Harrison at work in his Liseberg silhouette sales space. It exhibits a assured younger man sporting a trendy trilby hat and reducing a silhouette of a small baby standing on a picket chair. This stand-’em-on-a-chair trick is one I nonetheless use at the moment now and again. Even probably the most wriggly of babies will pose utterly nonetheless when stood on a chair, I’m not fairly certain why. Fortunately, he’s utilizing a suitably sturdy-looking chair!

Man cutting a silhouette of a child in a wooden stall with a cloth roof and many silhouettes on the display wall behind him.
Archive photograph from the Nineteen Twenties displaying silhouettist Henry Harrison at work in his Liseberg studio

In a few years of accumulating I’ve by no means seen a Harrison silhouette mounted on a Liseberg-branded card. It’s doable they’re all nonetheless hiding in drawers and mantelpieces throughout Europe, however maybe extra possible that Harrison didn’t hassle to label his silhouettes. Many artists of the day sadly didn’t take into account this essential. So, not like the silhouettes minimize by his up to date at Tivoli Gardens, it could by no means be doable to determine them. I do have a few unsigned and unlabelled silhouettes which I attribute to Harrison, primarily based on stylistic similarities, however which can’t be recognized with certainty.

When you occur to have a household silhouette minimize by Henry Harrison please do ship me an image of it, significantly if you understand it to have been made at Liseberg. From what I’ve seen Henry Harrison was a proficient, but largely unrecorded artist.


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