About this artwork

This expressive silhouette suggests that McAdam was a man with his feet firmly on the ground. The son of an Ayrshire landowner, McAdam made a fortune as a merchant in New York. When he returned to Britain, he was appalled by the condition of the rubble-built roads. His solution was the 'Macadamised' road surface, which was smooth, hard and flat. Small broken stones were arranged in thin layers, which locked together under the traffic flow, resulting in an easy-to-maintain and durable road surface.

Augustin Edouart

Augustin Edouart

The Frenchman Augustin Edouart was the most prolific silhouette artist of his day. Born in Dunkirk, he served in the Napoleonic Wars and came to England in 1814. Edouart travelled around the country extensively, cutting the silhouettes of nearly every man and woman who had even the slightest claim to fame. In 1830 and 31 he was in Scotland, working in Edinburgh and in Glasgow. His silhouette portraits were cut from black paper and are mostly full-length profiles, around 18 centimetres high.