Monday, February 27, 2012

Dummy Boards!


This falls into the category of "shit you find online while looking for something else entirely." 

I have only just realized these things exist, and I feel grossly deprived for having missed out all these years. They vary in quality, but generally seem to have a life-like appearance and amazing attention to detail.  Particularly in dress.

This is from an old Ebay auction. I think... if you won that auction and these are in your bathroom and you really, really hate me for using this picture, let me know! 

Description on the Victoria and Albert museum:
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.

So what does all of this mean? It means that people had a sense of humor at least as far back as the 17th century. "Placed in corners and on stairways to surprise visitors"?! Right. The midnight screams of way-faring guests who were attempting to sneak down to the kitchen for a snack must have been awesome.

Susanne M. Newstead is an artist and avid Dummy Board historian and collector. She maintains a personal website devoted to her own art work (and recreations of Dummy Boards) as well as a blog. The blog appears to have been a year-long project which ended in February of 2011, but it's still up for the interested and features many examples of Dummy Boards and some of Newstead's research into the art form.

Just a little 17th century Farrah Hair for ya.

These were used upon the roof of a church. That's messed up. I like to think of them talking to each other. Dude on the Right: "See that fool down there? I'm gonna smite his ass." Dude on the Left: "Looks like rain."

In the words of LeVar Burton: Wanna know more? Read all about it!

1 comment:

  1. Wow these are weird! My grandma had something similar in her staircase....only it was a clown in '70s colors with an unintentionally homicidal expression. Way less pleasant to happen upon at night.