Rare pair of American Folk Silhouettes attributed to The Red Book Artist
  • Here is a pair of great American folk silhouettes, attributed to the "Red Book Artist". The anonymous artist is believed to have worked in New York and Massachusetts (where these profiles have been found) and all found silhouettes are circa 1830. All women face to the right and all men face to the left. All hold a red book in the hand furthest from the viewer and the thumb shown of the hand clasping the book is overly long (we've heard it referred to as a "lobster claw hand"). The heads are hollow cut and the three-quarter length bodies painted in watercolor and gouache. The hands are opaque white paint with men having one hand in a pocket and women resting a hand on their hips. The hair is painted around the edge of the hollow cut heads with black watercolor.

    Like almost all that have been found of this artist’s work, the sitters are dressed in black. The artist must have liked black clothing because it made the white hands and red books stand out more distinctively. The woman wears a relatively opaque white pelerine around her neck and has a white buckle with red dots. The buckle stands out so much and is such an odd color for a buckle that Peggy first thought she wore a bracelet. In addition to the man’s white hands, the buttons on his waistcoat are painted white; just another splash of color added by this mysterious artist.

    These rare silhouettes do have some apologies. The églomisé verre glass mat has had some restoration but could use some more if you are so inclined (we aren’t really into repainting églomisé unless it is pretty much gone). We have placed a piece of acid-free black paper behind the man’s glass to camouflage the missing black paint. The man’s glass has a crescent-shaped break but it is still all there. You can see that both silhouettes are toned and have stains. The woman has some paper loss but it is all hidden by the painted glass. The paper on both is brittle. The best we can say is they are in fair condition. We love them as they are and love their quirkiness and rarity. We haven’t seen one on the market for years and they are much rarer than The Puffy Sleeve Artist. A word of caution, there are fakes out there and lots of misattributions to this artist. We have seen (and owned) work by a different artist who created full length silhouettes of seated people holding a red book. That is a different artist; a telltale difference is in the sitters' hands of the two artists’ work. I’m including a photo of the other artist’s work in the last thumbnail. I have been seeing the other artist’s work misattributed to “The Red Book Artist.”

    #6846    $4850