“Iam ver egelidos refert tepores…”

“Now Spring restores balmy warmth…..” xlvi ( Catullus 87-54? B.C.) ( we hope ) we might feel a bit more like doing some work, and we have been looking at some designs for fireboards for both the mini one and the full sized.

My client who wants the full sized one, would like an urn with trailing flowers and it might be a good idea to look at 17th century Dutch Still Life for our inspiration there.

Something a little like this perhaps but less fussy?

A more ‘modern look might be something like these fire screens.

Thanks to the owners of these images from the web. Rest assured, your design/ item will not be slavishly copied

The miniature commission is of a cat. There are quite a few dummy board cats to choose from but I am rather drawn, as was my client to the work of Henriette Roner-Knip, the Dutch painter who made a speciality of painting cats and kittens.

One or two people in the early 20th century were moved to make dummy boards from some of this lady’s designs. Copying etchings or famous paintings was something widely done in the late 18th early 19th centuries and beyond and we do find some charming examples now and again.

I have painted three such dummy boards in miniature. Forgive me for displaying one of them again here. The first is the cats in a jewellery box you’ve seen before and the last one I have dubbed Handel’s cat because it sits in my display house by the side of ‘Handel’s’ chair. The second is kittens in a basket ( NO, NOT with chips!) 😉

Cats in a jewellery box

Each of them is about one inch across.

Cat on a stool and kittens in a basket

When I began trying to identify some of these dummy boards from various collections around the world, I managed to pick up on the web a delightful book on Ronner Knip’s work, Cats and Kittens at play, to help me with identification of the original artist of some dummy boards.

Ronner Knip's Family Life 1885

From this book my client and I have decided that the above image will make a good fireboard. We shall take out the background and fade some of the ‘detail’ into shadows to achieve a good trompe l’oeil image. Like so….

This is the image we shall transfer to the primed basswood board.

I am awaiting instructions for the large fireboard so let’s get on with the Lydiard Girl.

Sandra’s dummy board needs to hold a doll in the crook of her arm and we shall need to look at a few images to ‘make it up as we go along’ at the painting stage. Something like these are the right kind of images that might give us inspiration.

Girl with her doll

Girl holding her doll

This doll ( right ) certainly has the right kind of face we are thinking about. I think we might call this a Jumeau type of doll?

And this one has the arm at the right angle, though we shall need to reverse her

The Lydiard girl's arm position

So you can see that there is a bit of work to be done before we transfer design to wood.

We have done a preparatory drawing for this dummy board ( which is not the usual way I work, as I normally paint directly onto the primed wood. ) We need to do this as the images need to be blended together.

Of course we must remember to leave a place at the bottom of the figure for Small Dog’s image …when Small Dog allows Sandra to take the photograph that will immortalise her in dummyboarddom!

Look in the sidebar for a picture of Small Dog and you can see what we shall be painting….eventually…

Here is the sketch of what we might achieve with the Lydiard Girl.

LOL…The pen is mightier than the mini paintbrush…don’t worry the finished item won’t be quite so heavy handed!


When we eventually put colour onto the figure we can do mostly whatever we like as there is great scope for invention. The original Easton Neston figure is in black and white and the Lydiard Girl is rather degraded (!) and it’s not possible to see exactly what her colours were. Let’s ask Sandra what she would like.

Now for the first drawing on board.

No rest for the wicked. 😦

2 Responses to ““Iam ver egelidos refert tepores…””

  1. Down to detail « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] and Fireboard […]

  2. The Devil makes work….. « Pastmastery's Blog Says:

    […] Iam ver egelidos refert tepores […]

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