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Two dummy boards

Netherlands, 18th century

Origin: Netherlands

Date: 18th century

Material: Oil on wood panel

Dimensions: Girl: 114 x 32 cm, boy: 106 x 30 cm


Dummy board are life-size, flat, wooden figures painted and shaped in outline to resemble soldier, servants, children or even animals. The earliest dummy boars date from the early 17th century, which is based on the evidence of their costumes. A large influence of the illusionistic style of painting also known as ‘tromp l’oeil,’ which was popular in the period, can be seen in these objects. They were used for decoration or as chimney boards, to cover the fireplace during summer or when it was not being used.

The present dummy boards consist of a boy and a girl in typical 18th century clothing. The girl’s hairstyle is also characteristic for the period, also known as a ‘fontage’ hairstyle. The hairstyle was popular between 1680 and 1720 and was primarily worn by noble women in the European courts. To achieve this hairdo, curls were placed high on the forehead and shaped by lace accessories, fake hair pieces and sometimes iron wire. The hairstyle was named after Mademoiselle de Fontanges, mistress of king Louis XIV. It was said that her hair had come loose during a hunt.  She proceeded to tie her loose hair on top of her forehead with a ribbon. The hairstyle went on to become popular not only in France, but in  the rest of Europe as well. Around 1815 the hairstyle went out of fashion.



Graham, Clare. Dummy boards and chimney boards. Shire Publications Ltd: 1988.

Kuijvenhoven-Groeneweg, Leontine. ‘A la mode. Pruiken en kapsels.’ In: Mededelingen van de Stichting Jacob Campo Weyerman. Jaargang 42, 2019.


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