Friday


Genuine Painted Body Silhouettes or Fake?

We found this on eBay. This pair brought $590. Below is the seller's description.

RARE PAIR OF FOLKY SILHOUETTES WITH GREAT DETAILS,CIRCA 1820'S,PROBABLY VERMONT

A RARE SET OF HUSBAND AND WIFE SILHOUTTES WITH GREAT DETAIL TO CLOTHES AND HAIR. HOLLOW CUT FABRIC BACKED ,AND WATERCOLOR DETAILS. LOOK AT THE DETAIL THIS ARTIST  PAID TO THE CLOTHING ,THE DETAILS ON HER DRESS AND HIS VEST. FOUND IN VERMONT AND DATING TO CIRCA 1820'S. GOOD CONDITION WITH BROWNING TO PAPER AND SOME SPLITS ON PAPER TO MAN BUT NOTHING THAT DETRACTS. THEY ARE IN PERIOD LEMON GOLD FRAMES WITH MUSTARD SIZED SIDES.THE FRAMES ALONE ARE WORTH 450.00. SHE MEASURES 5.5'' X 4.5'' FRAMED AND HE MEASURES 5 1/4'' X 5'' FRAMED. NOT GLUED DOWN AND GUARANTEED OF THE PERIOD.

B. M. Jones writes:
I would have bought this pair as genuine, period silhouettes. Frames seem to be period, and they are worth some money. But $450, no. These silhouettes are nicely done, retaining strong shades. This is a folky pair. What worries me is what I am not able to see. Silhouettes are matted for good reasons, and usually those reasons ain't good. What are the sizes of these silhouette papers? How far do the damages extend? If these silhouette papers were large enough to fill the frames, why would anyone mat them, unless, of course, the papers are full of defects. Or were these two silhouettes cut-down to the max?

Silhouette of the man shows obvious paper weakness with fragile spots. It runs into his nose, making his nose appear "broken." Whenever defects run into  sitters' profile, they would be considered serious defects. Silhouette of the woman shows two vertical lines. Are they fold lines? Toning lines? The woman seems to be in good shape based on what I can see. Their values depend on what are, and what are not, behind the mats. The seller writes, "NOT GLUED DOWN." That means the backs were opened for examination. Why, then, were photos not taken of the silhouettes outside of frames? Too many defects? Saw something the seller did not like? I am sure the new owner will have some fun with them.

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