Antique silhouette of woman wearing spectacles in original frame under glass and signed McCollom. The silhouette is scissor cut by hand on black card that is pasted onto laid paper and then set within an oval matte of card stock impressed with a linear relief pattern (see all nine Photos). The woman is wearing a collared blouse that may have two pleats along the front. A pencil in one of the photos shows where a pleat is delineated (see Photos). This is a classic silhouette that is featureless on the interior and simply the profile of the subject and their clothes. As such, however it captures the proportions and intricate bony proportions of the sitter in ways that a normal painting cannot and that is why silhouettes continued to be produced well after other types of photographic technology captured the exact likeness of a person.
The term silhouette came from the pastime of Etienne de Silhouette, a Frenchman who created many cut paper shadow profiles on black card stock. Silhouette was born 1709 and in his latter years after leaving the post of French Finance minister made so many miniature paper profiles that his name became synonymous with the cut profiles and continued to be used to refer to the artistic product well after his death in 1767. Silhouettes grew in popularity from the late 1700s to mid 1800s until photography rendered them outdated. Of course and just like painted miniature portraits, they were still produced but in a far fewer numbers than before after the camera took over portraiture.
The silhouette listed here is from the late 1800s or early 1900s, hence the c1900 mid date. It is a miniature example that is in its original frame as noted above. The laid white paper on which the black card profile has been glued has its lines running vertically rather than horizontally. And because the signature is written directly on the laid the paper and the laid paper is glue to the linear relief matte, one can pretty much deduce that all have been together from the first day the silhouette was brought home.
The signature below the shoulder is L. (or possibly a contorted A) McCollom followed by a thick vertical dash and then possibly a ‘26' or ‘2u’ (see Photo close-up). It is written with an opaque black guache and not any type of iron based ink or India ink. The writing is unusual and the manner in which some of the letters are stylized are hard to read. This manner suggests that this is the professional signature of the silhouettist and not the female sitter, but again this is just a hunch. If any viewer has seen this name on other silhouettes or listed among historical records of known silhouettist, kindly drop me an email - thanks, Doc.
At the time this silhouette was created, there were many other less expensive ways to preserve a loved one’s image. In the 1700s, silhouettes were the ‘poor man’s portrait’ since portrait painting was expensive. Photography left portrait painting as a fashionable extravagance among the upper classes and silhouettes an archaic portrait form dabbled in by a few specialists who refused to let the craft die. The history behind this simple classic silhouette of a woman wearing spectacles is currently unknown and so one is left to speculation. The eye glasses may the most important key to the women and the silhouette. The spectacles are of the form that there are no temple rods and the eye glasses simply clip onto her nose using the metal nose piece as a sort of clamp. Obviously, the eye glasses are such a strong part of the woman’s essence that both the woman and her silhouettist included them in the cut profile. Maybe it was part of her work or simply such a strong part of her presence that excluding the spectacles was not even considered. And so one can also surmise that she was not a women looking for a husband at the time of this sitting, but a woman who wanted to be recognized as she always was and wearing her signature spectacles. The year may be 1890, 1900, or 1910 but the woman in this silhouette was not going to remove her eye glasses out of vanity or for the sake of being captured for posterity.
This is a wonderful example of a rather late period silhouette. It looks at home on a wall, mantle, shelf or bo case and will draw attention and conversation from anyone who takes a moment to gaze at it. And as always, this silhouette also comes with my Docs Antiques 100% satisfaction guarantee or you may return it using my return policy for a refund (see full Return Policy details farther below).
SIZE & CONDITION: The silhouette image measures 3 5/8 inches tall (vertically) and is pasted within an oval opening through the relief textured matting (see Photos). The oval opening itself measures about 5 1/2 inches (vertically) by about 2 3/4 inches wide. The wood frame measures 11 1/8 inches tall by about 6 1/8 wide (see Photos) and is sealed on the back with several types of tape (the white tape is acid free tape). There is a wire attached to the frame on the back side for hanging. The silhouette is in very good condition with no tears or stains. Some of the photos may show faint reflections of light captured by the glass. The black silhouette is uniformly and perfectly matte black. The laid paper it is pasted to has no stains or foxing. The textured outer matte, however has a few faint age stains or age burns but they do not overpower the silhouette (see all Photos). The glass is in good condition with no major scratches and no cracks or grime. And so this is a wonderful framed silhouette with the artist’s signature that dates from about 120 years ago. Of course, if the buyer is not 100% satisfied, then she/he may return this silhouette for a refund (see our complete return policy noted below).
SHIPPING: All US mainland buyers pay $8.60 for well packed and insured USPS Priority Mail (this is an estimated savings of about $1 to $4 since insurance and tracking are also INCLUDED in the above quoted amount for all mainland US addresses). No handling or packing fees are ever charged. All international buyers will pay only the exact shipping costs for all verifiable locations outside the continental US mainland. Insurance is no longer available under many less costly International shipping options. We only use the USPS for International shipping to reduce broker fees and some Custom’s charges when an item is over 100 years old. We ask the International customer to send us their address for an email quote covering all insured International shipping options to your location. Please note that International import duties, taxes and other charges are not included in the item price or shipping costs and these additional charges are the Buyer's responsibility. We do offer a petition for VAT relief on the behalf of the buyer which may help reduce certain import taxes should your country allow such petitions for items over 100 years old. Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to purchasing this item -- thanks.
RETURN POLICY: Satisfaction and peace of mind are guaranteed for all Docs Antiques Ruby Lane listings -- please refer directly to our Service Pledge and our Return Policy for full details. And this means that if the buyer is unhappy with the purchase, then she/he may return it by sending the item back undamaged and post marked within fourteen days of original receipt for a refund (certain shipping costs are non-refundable). Items damaged by shipping in the US are covered by insurance and while this rarely happens because we double pack, we will gladly help you file your insurance claim should it ever be necessary. Of course, never send an item back that has been damaged by shipping since that will void the original insurance. Instead, contact us for help and we will gladly assist.
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Docs INV: RL784.a1907
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