A grouping of antique silhouettes. I have a weakness for odd antique art and recently purchased six silhouettes. How to hang them turned out to be a real mind bender. Usually the silhouette frames come with an ornate top ring, and hammering a brass nail into the wall to hang them from would have been the typical way to go. Except two of the frames had problems and required special treatment. Leigh Ann Williams of 24FPS suggested I call Russell Sublette, a preparator and mount maker who has worked at the Dallas Museum of Art for over thirty years. In his free time, Russell makes these ingenious captures for pieces of art that would fare better without the traditional mounting and framing techniques. There’s a little video on the DMA’s website that highlights one of Russell’s behind-the-scenes masterpieces.
Follow the link below to see the captures before, during, and after the install.
(above) In the first photo I took of Russell holding one of his captures, he was smiling. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out very well. In this photo emotional display was at a minimum.
(above) The silhouettes with their captures are laid out and ready to go.
(above) It’s a clever little trick using blue painters’ tape to form a tray for catching debris.
(above) The first capture is now in place. If you’re wondering why these installation photos are a bit on the rosy side, it’s because my bedrooms’s overhead light fixture has been fixed up with buff pink light bulbs.
(above) top silhouette: circa 1800, by William Alport; middle silhouette: Georgian, circa 1800 to 1810, artist unknown; bottom silhouette: Georgian, circa 1820 to 1830, artist unknown
(above) top silhouette: American, circa 1830–The head is a hollow-cut from one piece of wove paper. The lithographed body is a second piece of paper that has been lightly pasted onto the black silhouette paper. A reverse painted glass tops the image layers. middle silhouette: American, circa early 1800s, by Joseph Wood, the sitter is Miss Sally Worster. bottom silhouette: American, New England, circa early 1800s, artist unknown.
(above) This is my favorite by far. Tiny, but exquisite. This silhouette is signed “Wood” in ink below the bust with “Mrs. Sally Worster” penciled below that. Since the sitter looks to be in her early twenties, she, most likely, would have been born during the American Revolution. The frame, a one sixteenth plate ambrotype, is not original to the piece. In fact it is the back portion of a hinged box. The cover portion, now detached, has an American flag with 35 stars. Which means that this frame was created some time between 1863 and 1865 during the height of the Civil War when West Virginia became the thirty fifth state. To be more clear, this silhouette predates the frame by many decades. With Russell’s custom captures, this little treasure remains unmarred.