Antique American Hollow Cut Silhouette in Great Tooled Leather Frame
  • Sweet very tiny American hollow cut silhouette of either of a young girl that I really bought for the frame. The frame is tooled leather over wood (at least I think it is leather). The leather was colored (probably died but possibly painted) with tooled sawtooth borders to both inside and outside edges. The leather is applied over wood that has been moulded with a slight curve in the center. I’ve never seen a frame like this and I think it is a real find. The silhouette figure is a tiny 2 ½” on paper that measures about 4” x 3”. The small size is scarce as there do not seem to have been a lot of American silhouettists that worked in such a small format. Everett Howard and J. Brown come to mind, but this silhouette cannot be attributed to either of them according to the characteristics that we know. The silhouette has a great bust termination with a sharp double curve. The young lady wears a small ruffed collar which dates the silhouette to circa 1820. The facial features are sensitively cut with a small double chin, small nose and tiny cut eyelash. She might have benefitted from a little painted embellishment for hair—the lack of any makes me think this may have been the duplicate of a double cutting that the sitter’s family framed at home. As you can see, there is wear to the leather frame (which I think adds to the charm), some spotting throughout the silhouette paper, small tears around the figure (at least 3 small tears radiating from the head) at the front of the bustline and around the edges of the paper. There are two areas of paper loss at the bottom and right edges of the paper which I’ve camouflaged with somewhat by placing period wove paper behind the silhouette. The silhouette sits over black fabric that has been spot glued to the period paperboard backing. I cannot get mylar behind the fabric. There is a nice bubble in the early glass. It hangs from a bent copper wire hanger which is modern wire strung through an early wire clip. Framed size 4 ¾” x 4”, not including the hanger. This is just a fun early 19th century piece of American folk art.


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