This is a very attractive and unusual American Folk Silhouette. The head of the sitter is hollow cut and her tall hair comb and yellow dress with high ruffled collar is painted and drawn with watercolor and graphite. If you’ve watched my website for long, you undoubtedly know that I love and collect these folk silhouettes with painted bodies. In my opinion, these 1825 to 1840 silhouettes show American silhouettists at their most creative stage. There were numerous American silhouettists traveling throughout America cutting silhouettes (which were at the peak of popularity). How did one silhouettist (using the favored tracing machine or physiognotrace) distinguish his work from all of the other silhouettists coming right behind him….or having just passed through the same town before he got there? A few of them started cutting only the head and outline of the hair and, then added the body using paint, graphite, cut-out lithograph that had been printed specifically for the silhouettist, or carving a wood block and stamping the body under the head. The excitement of these folk silhouettes is that they are so varied, colorful, and folky.
This American folk silhouette is of a young woman wearing a yellow gown which is a color I’ve not seen in these folk silhouettes. Her hair comb is drawn and then painted in mottled brown to simulate the tortoise shell that the young woman either wore or wished she could afford. Her swan-like neck fits beautifully into her drawn and painted ruffled collar. The frame is not as old as the silhouette (in fact it is probably a 20th century reproduction frame) and the back is covered with tan paper on which a poem or letter was written. On the reverse is also a printed label "Evelina E. Bardwell, Williamstown, Ms." The framed size is 6” x 5”. Circa 1825.
#6715  Sale Pending
Ex-Collection of Carolyn and Tom Porter