The Victoria and Albert Piglet

AND SO…..the very first thing we should do is explain what a dummy board figure is. Many of you reading this may have gone into a stately home, a castle, a museum or even a private house and may have been surprised by a very realistic painting done on wood, of perhaps, a servant, maybe a dog or a child, cut in outline and placed in a dark corner, under a staircase say – or at the end of a corridor.

These are known as dummy board figures ( sometimes silent companions ) and they are one of the most secretive forms of Folk Art you can find. I say ‘secretive’ because they are often hidden away…just seen, teasing at the edge of the vision. They are also ‘secret’ in that they are an almost forgotten art form. Not many people know anything about them; they are quite rare decorative antiques and until I came to them twelve years ago, they had not really been studied in any detail let alone written about.

There are odd papers and articles here and there, some dating back to the 19th century when ‘gentlemen’ historians took a liking to this type of art. There are one or two pamphlets like the Shire booklet by my good friend and fellow dummy board fancier Dr. Clare Graham ( you will hear more of her as we go along in this blog ) but no glossy coffee table books, no serious studies. Until my own, that is – ” This Quiet Life”- an examination of the historic dummy board or silent companion.

Now- how many other antiques can you think of that have never been written about?

So here is a blog devoted to the many forms of the dummy board ; the soldiers and the servants; the infants and the Indians; the pigs and the pork pies.

For today…. we’ll leave it at that… Here, at PastMastery, you will find history and histrionics, art and artifice, philosophy and phantasy all with a smattering of fun and frolics! ( I hope ).

I will add ‘serious’ information when I find a new figure or an important fact, when I have painted a new miniature or a full sized figure.The rest of the time I shall ramble. I’ll still, I trust, be saying something vaguely interesting. 🙂 and I’ll try to include as many fun pictures as I can. I do hope that you….the dummy board fancying public -will join in and tell me about your discoveries and your mini creations; where you have seen a dummy board large or small or where you might put one if you had one.

Even if you don’t like them…tell me…and why 😉

I couldn’t do it without you. You are my eyes and ears. So -let’s hear it for the Dummy board figure down the centuries.

One more thing. Just a word about reproduction….( no -not THAT kind !) 🙂

I am more than happy to have my work quoted on any site or blog, in any book or article. HOWEVER, I take a very dim view of those who reproduce without asking or at the very least, without crediting me as the author. If you would like to use any of my hard earned work…please ask me and do me the courtesy of crediting me with ownership. 😦

For more information on the dummy board both full sized and miniature go to


Tomorrow…. the Victoria and Albert pig; on me, Sue, as a fine artist in full size and miniature and why I am passionate about dummy boards.


  1. Jean Day Says:

    Congratulations on you new blog! I look forward to hearing more about your artwork. Cheers, Jean

  2. Sandra Says:

    Hi Sue,

    Welcome to the world of blogging! Look forward to seeing you at Thame on Saturday too.


  3. julie Says:

    Lovely blog Sue, look forweard to reading more !
    julie xxx

  4. Margaret Cassidy Says:

    Looking forward to reading more!

  5. Janet Says:

    Are dummy boards ever made from plaster? I have an object that I thought might have been used to cover a fireplace opening in the winter. It depicts a scene of two caveliers playing cards in a tavern. It is made of plaster and painted white, red and black.
    Any thoughts?

  6. pastmastery Says:

    I have answered your query off blog Janet.

    But for those who might like to know the answer. I don’t think that the item in question is a dummy board for the simple reason that it wouldn’t be very trompe l’oiel and wouldn’t fool anyone.
    In the main this is what they were designed to do.

    I suspect your Cavaliers is a fire screen. This sort of thing was produced in the 19th century.

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