Woman with Mirror (dummy board) thumbnail 1
Woman with Mirror (dummy board) thumbnail 2
+1
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Woman with Mirror (dummy board)

Dummy Board
1630-1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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 life-size figure of a woman looking into a mirror is well-dressed, the style of clothes suggesting a date of about 1640. It came from East Sutton Park in Kent, and has carved wooden feet, the right foot projecting outwards. As she is looking into a mirror, she probably represents 'vanity'. The V&A collection has a companion dummy board showing the same figure holding a broom, representing 'industry'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on wood
Brief Description
Dummy board, woman with mirror, British ca. 1640
Physical Description
Screen painted in oil colours on wood; representing a lady with small oval mirror in her left hand, right hand holding her hair which is brown and falls below the waist; she wears a pearl necklace and pendant pearl earrings, hair chain and bracelet; in olive green dress of floral pattern trimmed with gold braid, low-cut bodice, neck-trimmings, and cuffs of white linen edged with scalloped needle-point lace; large white apron similarly edged falling straight to the feet. Feet modelled in wood, right foot projecting, left foot straight to skirt.
Dimensions
  • Height: 5ft
  • Width: 2.5ft
Style
Object history
From East Sutton Park, Kent. Early 17th century.

From catalogue H. 5 ft. 1 in., W. 2 ft. 8 in.

(H. 154.9 cm, W. 81.3 cm)



Supposed to be copies of family portraits of the family of Sir Robert Filmer, of East Sutton Park, Staplehurst, Kent, who was a prominent Royalist and died in 1653. The figures, which were inherited from the Filmers, were bought in 1898 at the sale near Maidenhead of Mrs. Sankey, a daughter of Sir Edmund Filmer.

See 'Archaeological Journal,' Vol. LII, p. 1, 'Picture Board Dummies,' by R. S. Fergusson, 1895.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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 life-size figure of a woman looking into a mirror is well-dressed, the style of clothes suggesting a date of about 1640. It came from East Sutton Park in Kent, and has carved wooden feet, the right foot projecting outwards. As she is looking into a mirror, she probably represents 'vanity'. The V&A collection has a companion dummy board showing the same figure holding a broom, representing 'industry'.
Associated Object
W.90-1921 (Ensemble)
Bibliographic Reference
From: H. Clifford Smith, Catalogue of English Furniture & Woodwork (London 1930), 663
Collection
Accession Number
W.89-1921

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 20, 2005
Record URL