This masterpiece of the craft of paper-cutting was a speciality of the Irish artist and herald painter Nathaniel Bermingham (d. 1774), who moved to London in the 1740s, where he advertised his talents as 'an improver of a curious [skilful] art of cutting out portraits and Coats of Arms in Vellum, with the point of a pen-knife'. His paper or vellum coats-of-arms, in the manner of scissor-cut decoupages, were initially sold at Laetitia Pilkington's fashionable print shop in St. James' Street. One such portrait of Jonathan Swift is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; while the present coat of arms is that of John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and 5th Earl of Orrery (d.1762), the author of Remarks on The Life and Writings of Jonathan Swift, 1752.
A Bermingham cut-paper owl picture belonged to the antiquarian and author Horace Walpole, who also owned one of his fables from Aesop, in cut paper on looking-glass; while Bermingham's early 1750s portrait of Britannia mourning Frederick, Prince of Wales was acquired in 1932 by the Victoria and Albert Museum (see H. Walpole, Description of Strawberry Hill, 1774; and C. Graham, Precious Paperwork, Traditional Interior Decoration, October, 1987 pp. 144-150).