Eleven Nineteenth Century Original Cut-Out Silhouette Portraits
NA. Very Good. N.d., circa 19th century. Figures represented are Napoleon, Dr. Johnson, Pope Pius VII, Mary Magdalen, Democritus (based on a medal), Shakespeare, Mad Tom and four more loosely identified figures, including a "lean curate", a "Spanish dancer, a woman representing "the Nations lost, the Nations sorrow". The silhouettes are created by the careful cutting of holes in the paper, in the vein of fretwork, resulting in a two toned picture. We have the white paper used for the cut-outs backed by a red paper, but since the white paper is not pasted on to this paper, one can change the paper to whatever backing one pleases. Such folk art efforts typically ended up mounted in albums; for whatever reason, this group was not and the silhouettes are separate from one another. Clearly, though, they were all done by the same amateur. Some of the portraits are more crisply rendered, but even the crudest cut-outs exude considerable charm. Silhouettes were very popular in the eighteenth into the nineteenth century. Surely this amateur was an English Catholic. The portrayal of Pius VII, who died in 1823, might argue for a early to mid-19th century dating, but obviously, he did not instantly descend into oblivion at this death and he could easily have chosen him as a subject many decades later. The cut-outs range in size from about 13 by 10 cm to 25 by 20 cm. Neat, calligraphic cursive ink captions identify each of the cut-outs, and the style of writing aids in our dating as well.
(Inventory #: 005030)
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