RARE Hollow Cut and Watercolor Silhouette
att: Puffy Sleeve Artist
(active 1830 - 1831)
For Folk Art Collectors and collectors of Americana among the most sought after silhouettes are those produced by the individual known as the Puffy Sleeve Artist. Recent research has pointed to the identity of this artist as Ezra Wood of Buckland, in Western MA who was active between 1830 -1831. (See The Magazine Antiques, July/August 2014)
Rendered with head in profile and the body in a two-thirds frontal posture, this hollow-cut silhouette by the Puffy Sleeve Artist is distinguished by its primitiveness as well as the abstract perspective as are the other works by this artist.
In all cases the head of the sitter has been cut out and laid over a piece of black paper or fabric, and the body is painted in watercolor. The women face right and wear a dress with an unusually large "puffy sleeve" while the men face left. Their right hand rests at waist level, while the left hand holds a decorative object such as a purse, flower, book or parasol. They all have combs in their hair that have been cut into the hollow work and their heads sit high above their bodies, giving ample room to display their necklaces or fichus (collars). In this case our lady wears a blue ribbon around her neck and holds a book dated "1830'. There is a ribbon around her waist as found in most other examples. It is framed in a molded giltwood frame and still retains it's original bubbly glass.
It is interesting to note that the identity of the artist whose work is so distinctive could be so elusive. The work of the "Puffy Sleeve" Artist is highly sought after by collectors and is appreciated for the wonderful Folk Art that it is. Once you have seen one example, you will surely recognize any others you may come across as the artist painted true to his pattern with few deviations. Charming and Naive`, it is Folk Art at it's best and every serious collection of Silhouettes should have at least one example. Size is 5" x 4".
This Hollow-Cut Profile Portrait is classic Puffy Sleeve and the pencil inscription on the backboard identifies her as "Grandmother Holden, Mary Nutting age 18 years done 67 years ago . . . 1897."
Questions? Ask the Ferret!