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Dummy board - Young Woman Peeling Apples

Young Woman Peeling Apples

  • Object:

    Dummy board

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1690 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on wood

  • Credit Line:

    Given by R. W. Symonds

  • 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.

Young women peeling apples were a popular theme for dummy boards.

Physical description

Life-size cut-out painting of a seated young woman peeling apples into her apron on her lap. She is wearing a brown dress with low bodice laced in front and showing a linen frill. She has linen cuffs and apron and wears a lace cap in her hair which is dressed high.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca. 1690 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Oil on wood


Height: 124.5 cm, Width: 70 cm, Depth: 1.5 cm board, Depth: 3.5 cm batten

Object history note

Given by R .W. Symonds, furniture historian and writer

Historical context note

Figures peeling apples were a popular theme for dummy boards. They may have been inspired by Dutch paintings of interiors, such as 'Woman peeling an apple' by Cornelius Bisshop (1630-1674), in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 'Arnold Houbraken, writing in 1719...describes how Bisshop painted cur-out wooden templates which could be placed in a corner or doorway in the hope of deceiving the unwary' (Graham, 1988). There is a similar example at the Chateau de Malle near Bordeaux, France, and a19th century version at Knole Park.

Descriptive line

Dummy board, oil on wood panel, young woman peeling apples, 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

Apple parers; Apple; Woman


Eating; Clothing; Hats & headwear; Household objects; Paintings; Tools & Equipment


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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