Trompe L'Oeil Louvered Fireboard

1810–40
Unidentified artist, American, 19th century


Object Place: probably Philadelphia

Dimensions

100.3 x 123.8 cm (39 1/2 x 48 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

2005.327

Medium or Technique

Paint on wood panel

On View

C. Kevin and G. Barrie Landry Gallery (Gallery 126)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Paintings

Center panel depicts an idyllic landscape and is held in place by wooden turned buttons on the reverse panel. Framed at the top and bottom with still-life details of trompe l’oeil louvers and shell-filled niches. The louvers to either side of the central panel are functional, for the purpose of providing ventilation. Used to close a fireplace opening in the summer months.


During the summer, a fireboard was placed within an empty hearth to beautify it. Although the central landscape with a hilltop castle looks European, wood analysis has revealed that the panel is tulip poplar, a species native to North America. Therefore, the scene was painted in the United States, perhaps using a European print as a model. The surrounding panels combine actual slats with painted ones, along with a trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) still life of shells.

Provenance

the artist; Joe Kindig, York, Pennsylvania; Peter Tillou, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1972; Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little; with Sotheby's, New York, The Bertram K. Little and Nina Fletcher Little Collection, Part II, October 21-22, 1994, Sale 6612, lot 834; with Leigh Keno American Antiques, New York; with Sotheby's, New York, May 19, 2005, sale N08097, Lot 187; to MFA, 2005, purchase.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds by exchange from the Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, Bequest of Rosamond F. Peirce, and Gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815-1865