Dummy Board Portrait of a Woman

Collection Type

  • Art

Date

1740-1750

GUSN

GUSN-26838

Description

Full-length dummy board portrait of a woman, wearing a blue skirt, brown bodice, white apron, fichu and bonnet, carrying tray. Oil on American larch.

Details

Descriptive Terms

dummy board figures
oil paint (paint)
larch (wood)
Painting

Label

"Cherished Possessions": Trompe l'oeil figures like this one (trompe l'oeil means to deceive the eye) were popular whimsies among the well-to-do in Holland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is one of a few surviving American "dummy boards," so called because the figures remain mute. This dummy board of a servant carrying a tray of steaming cups of chocolate belonged to Boston, Massachusetts, widow Elizabeth Wendell Smith, who likely brought it with her when she moved to Maine in 1766 after her second marriage. Family tradition holds that the board depicts Elizabeth Smith's maid, Phyllis, a common name for servants, especially slaves.
January 2010-Winter Antiques Show: Trompe l'oeil figures like this one, known as "dummy boards," were popular whimsies among the well-to-do in Holland and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This rare American example of a servant carrying a tray of steaming cups of chocolate belonged to Elizabeth Wendell Smith of Boston. Family tradition holds that the board depicts Smith's maid Phyllis.

Maker

Unknown

Object Type

Art

Dimensions

62 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 2 (HxWxD) (inches)

Credit Line

Bequest of Elizabeth Beasom Stephan

Accession Number

1976.173