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Dummy board - Man with a Cane

Man with a Cane

  • Object:

    Dummy board

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1690 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on wood lined with canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Dummy boards are life-size, flat, wooden figures painted and shaped in outline to resemble figures of servants, soldiers, children, and animals. The taste for using illusionistic painted figures as a form of house decoration probably originated in the trompe l’oeil, or life-like interior scenes painted by Dutch artists in the early 17th century. Dummy boards continued to be produced into the 19th century. They were placed in corners and on stairways to surprise visitors, or in front of empty fireplaces in the summer. Most were made by professional sign-painters, who also produced the hanging street signs prevalent until the late 18th century.

This example depicting a man with a cane is of particularly high quality and is painted on canvas attached to the board to prevent shrinkage.

Physical description

Life-size cut-out painting of a man holding a cane. He is wearing a full bottom wig, lace cravat over a red tie or bow, and a green coat trimmed with gold embroidery on the sleeves, front and buttons. Black hose and shoes with buckles. In his left hand he holds his gloves, and in the right a cane.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1690 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Oil on wood lined with canvas


Height: 188 cm, Width: 90 cm, Depth: 2 cm board, Depth: 10 cm baseboard

Object history note

Bought in 1931

Historical context note

This dummy board is of unusually high quality. It is painted on canvas attached to the wood, to minimise damage caused by shrinkage.

Descriptive line

Dummy board, oil on wood panel, man with wig and cane, British ca.1690

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Graham, Clare. Dummy Boards and Chimney Boards. Shire Album 214, Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd, 1988. 32 p., ill. ISBN 085263921X.





Subjects depicted

Man; Wig; Cravat; Cane; Lace


Clothing; Fashion; Footwear; Household objects


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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