Perhaps a more flattering and life-like portrait than most of the likenesses of the famous Tyneside entertainer. This portrait is a rather a mystery as Billy Purvis was known to have played the Northumbrian, not the Irish pipes.
'Billy Purvis, perhaps the best known of the 19th century Northumbrian Showmen, numbered amongst his many skills conjuring, clowning, fiddling and bagpipe playing. He was however also known as a skilled teacher of dance.
The portrait forms part of a collection held by Newcastle City Library. The collection comprises much of the original material collected by Thomas Allan for the publication of 'Allan's Tyneside songs'. From original Ned Corvan manuscripts to photographs of Joe Wilson, and correspondence from local figures such as Joseph Cowen, the collection provides a genuinely fascinating glimpse of some of the region's best known composers. The material dates from 1860 to 1890, spanning the dates of the various publications of the book in 1862, 1863, 1864, 1872, 1873 and 1891.