I learned something very sad today.

And I’m sorry that I didn’t learn of it earlier or find out in the way I did.

I was browsing the web for dummy boards as I do every so often, partly to keep an eye on what’s new out there in the way of new makers of figures ( which is always great to see ) and partly to trawl the antique sites for new historic figures that may add a smidgeon of knowledge to the wadge of information I hold on dummy board in general, when I came across a reference to the death from cancer of Maggy Howard, last year.

She was a wonderful artist who is perhaps best known for her atmospheric pictures of Chillingham cattle. See Chillingham wild cattle

What few people knew was that she was a wonderful interpreter of the dummy board long before any one else ( including me ) had thought to re-visit this art form and pull it into the 20th century.

She will be sorely missed, not only because she was a thoroughly nice lady but because she was such a consummate artist willing to share her knowledge with those of similar persuasion.

And she lived up the road from me in Northamptonshire.

She allowed me access to her archives and I will just reproduce a few of her creations here on this blog to give you a taste of what she could do with a bit of plywood and some acrylics!

Perhaps the funniest and quirkiest dummy board she created was this

The Boars head

This was a double sided dummy board in true trompe l’oiel fashion. Some of the apples were real and some painted. Not easy to see which is which I have to say!

This one I call Maggy’s rabbitย  though I think the actual creature went by the wonderful name of Wooster! ๐Ÿ™‚


Maggy was famed for her animals and particularly her cats and this fire screen featured three beautiful Persians.

Mimi, Kiri and < ahem> Nosher? Which is which I wonder?

Dogs too were captured by her brush and here we have a very willing Collie who looks so lifelike you almost expect her to wag her tail! I think Maggy was a bit of a Mrs Noah at heart!

The Collie dog Nellie

She wasn’t averse to the odd pig either!

They look so content! A Saddleback and a Wiltshire White.

Her dummy boards are scattered far and wide across the world and they will most certainly be the ‘antique dummy board’ of the future. If you are lucky enough to own one…hang on to it…..they will be valuable one day….if you see one for sale…snap it up. You are unlikely to get another chance to buy, one of the best 20th century dummy boards made in this country…and let’s face it…there aren’t many good totally hand made modern ones anyway! Many that you see for sale have been airbrushed to a stencil and consequently were churned out as mass productions….like the early figures made in London at the end of the 17th beginning of the 18th centuries, by sign and coach painters. Only…they hadn’t the luxury of the ‘airbrush’! ๐Ÿ™‚

I must say that I was very glad that I got to know ( though not really well enough ), Maggy. She was a very talented lady. She knew just a little about dummy boards…until she met me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ but she was willing to listen and learn about them and I was happy to sit and natter for hours with her, about her commissions, some of which were quite comical and had a funny story attached to them.We didn’t paint in the same way or with the same materials….or even, in some cases, the same subjects but like me, she loved the old dummy boards with a passion few share.

The art of the Dummy Board was well served by Maggy Howard. I hope that my very little taster of what she did with just part of her artistic life, will serve as a monument to this thoroughly entertaining, up front and versatile artist.

Henry I have painted in miniature.

3 Responses to “Mrs.Noah”

  1. bonsmots Says:

    Lovely tribute to a wonderful artist. I know you’ll miss your friend and fellow dummy board aficionado.

  2. Nina Says:

    Extraordinary work. Thank you for sharing the photos. Nina

  3. pastmastery Says:

    Thanks Nina…
    she was a very special artist.

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