Sunday, January 12, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: The Feeding Pig Dummy Board, 1750

The Victoria & Albert Museum

We’ve looked at Dummy Boards before, but never one shaped like an oinker. Just to refresh your memory, dummy boards are life-size, flat, wooden figures which are painted to resemble figures (usually servants, soldiers, and children, but sometimes animals).

These novelties were fashionable as a form of decoration (which originated in the trompe l’oeil) in the early Seventeenth Century, but they were made well into the Nineteenth Century. These items were placed in corners and on stairways to surprise visitors. I think a pig on the stairs would certainly surprise me. Sometimes they were placed in front of empty fireplaces in the summer. Usually, these were the work of professional sign-painters.

This one is quite a triumph of perspective. The figure of a piglet feeding from a bowl has been angled to slope away from the spectator so that the bowl appears horizontal.

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