This is a very exciting and rare American folk silhouette by an anonymous artist who did work similar to the Puffy Sleeve Artist. Personally, I think that this work is by the same hand as the Puffy Sleeve Artist, but there are not enough examples of this work to compare completely and there are significant differences in the two works. This artist's work (if it is not the same artist) is much more rare. Unlike the work recognized by the Puffy Sleeve Artist, this lovely young woman does not have a long puffy sleeve...she has a short sleeve with a bare arm (I've not seen an example with a bare arm before). Unlike the Puffy Sleeve, her hands are hidden, not naïvely painted as with the Puffy Sleeve. Unlike the Puffy Sleeve, she does not hold an accessory in her hand. But, her hollow cut head sits high atop her long neck with a lightly pencil outlined white pelisse with painted ornamentation and jewelry. Her hair comb sits high atop her head. She is facing right, three-quarter length and wears a belt on a similar styled dress as the Puffy Sleeve (minus the long leg-o-mutton sleeve. Her hair is painted around the edges of her well-defined hollow cut head. But, look at the wonderful hair ornamentation painted atop her head! No identified Puffy Sleeve silhouette has this wonderful, inventive painted ornamentation which appears to include a smaller painted comb as well as red, blue and black flowers in her hair. And look at the small curl of hair at the nape of her neck! Wonderful!
She resides in a period pressed brass over wood frame which may be original. The piece of black silk is sewn to the paper (something I've also not seen before). You can see some of the stitches in the close up photos just as the top of the silhouette paper disappears behind the frame. You can better see the stitches in the unframed scans below. There is a light pencil inscription on the back. I surmise that this is the order, taken by the silhouettist who traced and cut the silhouette head while the client was in his/her rented room and then finished the painting in the evenings for delivery the next day (much like the Da Lee family quickly started their portrait miniatures, wrote the name of the sitter lightly on the back in pencil, then delivered the finished portraits later). Unfortunately, the paper was cut to fit the frame (almost certainly by the artist) after completion but without regard for keeping the notes intact on the back. With the help of a client, the code has been cracked and the inscription says:
Blue Dress Black
down to the Belt
Framed size is 4 1/2" x 5 1/8". Paper size is 3 1/4" x 3 7/8". As you can see in the photos, there is minor toning of the paper where the light has hit in within the frame apeture. A bit of paper loss around the edges of the paper (seen only if out of the frame). A few very tiny specks where the paint blue paint has rubbed (which show up so much more in the photos than in real life). The white specks you see within the black fabric are lint. The frame has some expected tarnishing.
The only published example of this artist's work that I can find is "Miss Boynton, Wilton, N. Hampshire, c. 1830", Anderson, Marna A Loving Likeness American Folk Portraits of the Nineteenth Century, (Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (1992). 51.
A great piece of American folk art and a rarity in silhouettes. Circa 1830.
(#4751) Price on Request