Antique American Folk Silhouette of Woman in Grey Dress
  • Here’s a wonderful American folk silhouette of a woman with a hollow cut head and a watercolor painted body. I love the painted detail of her grey dress with the still somewhat tight sleeves and the crossed bodice. I say the sleeves are somewhat tight but you can see that the style is moving towards the huge puffy sleeves that would become popular before the end of the decade. Her double ruffled collar is part of a tucker that tucks into the neckline of her dress. It is tied with a thin bright blue ribbon that adds much to the composition. The blue is echoed by the outline of her belt. She wears her hair in an Apollo knot with a huge comb at the crown of her head and a smaller one on top of her head. The artist’s depiction of her hair and hair ornaments just adds to the silhouette’s glory. It is just a classic American folk silhouette. The paper is heavily toned and has some spotting. There is a tight tear starting at her nose and moving out towards 3 o’clock and a crease from the bottom of her chin down in front of the blue ribbon around her neck. So, there are a few condition issues but the price is more than reasonable—it’s downright cheap for this silhouette. The lady is housed in a molded wood black painted frame with scuffing around the edges as you can see in the photo. Framed size is 4 1/4" x 5 1/4". The backboard has a collection tag and a pencil inscription that is mostly illegible. I’ve added photos of the inscription that I’ve enhanced as much as possible and I still can’t read most of it. It seems to say “Betty” then maybe “Anderson” although that’s not clear. The next line is illegible except for 1833 (which is too late for the silhouette). The third line is totally illegible. The inscription does not appear to be period and was probably added generations later as a family member inscribed the verbal family history. Verbal family histories are about as reliable as the game of Secret that we were taught as kindergarteners. Whisper a secret to the person next to you who whispers it to the next….and so on until you get to the last person who heard something totally different than the secret that was started. I say all of this because this silhouette is circa 1820 and definitely not 1833.

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