Theorems - Skinner

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8 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 4 μέρες)

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Still lifes of baskets or compotes
overflowing with fruits and flowers
are common theorem themes.
ANTIQUES
ANDCOLLECTIBLES
T
heorems
aintings on
vel
vet—the
mere mention conjures up
images of Elvis, Bengal tigers,
and dogs playing poker
. But when
your painting on velvet is
a
theorem,
well, then you’ve got
s
o
m
e
t
h
i
n
g
t
h
a
t
i
s
highly collectible. Theorems are a form
of folk art popular with Americana
collectors. Use of the word
theorem
refers to a series of parts coming to-
gether to create a greater whole, and it
describes the stenciling technique used
to create these works.
The earliest American examples of
theorem painting were on furniture in
New Y
o
rk’
s
Hudson V
alley region dur-
ing the late 1700s. It is believed the art
form was brought to the United States
by Dutch settlers. Unlike later multi-
colored examples, these early theorems
were either monochromic or in shades
of gray
, made by using a delicate wash
known as grisaille. Few examples of
this type of theorem have survived,
making them quite rare and valuable.
Polychrome theorems, rendered both
in oil paints and watercolors, later
appeared as framed pictures done on
velvet, cotton, linen, and paper
, made
primarily by school girls. Most examples
were unsigned and date from the early
1800s to around 1860. They were made
using stencils cut out of board or heavy-
weight stock. The most common themes
included still lifes of baskets or compotes
overflowing with fruits and flowers.
Other compositions included land-
scapes, mourning scenes, and portraits.
“The stenciling technique creates very
flat areas of color with the subtlest of
shadings,” notes Stephen L. Fletcher
,
director of Skinner’
s
American Furni-
ture and Decorative Arts department.
“It is what gives theorems a puzzle-like,
almost graphic quality
. This effect may
be enhanced when painted on velvet.”
In the late 19th century
,
theorems fell
out of fashion, but they again found fa-
vor with Americana collectors in the
early 20th century and remain highly
collectible to this day
. Over time, theo-
rems are subject to condition problems
such as fading, staining, and oxidation,
depending on the medium and colors
used. This can affect value. Examples in
their original frames, especially those in
stenciled frames, are very sought after
.
Simple still life theorems can be pur-
chased beginning at about $400 to
$600. Larger examples or those with
extensive stenciling can sell for $10,000
or more. The art of theorem painting
survives today
, thanks to organizations
such as The Historical Society of Early
American Decoration (HSEAD). For
more information, visit hsead.org, the
HSEAD W
eb site.
This column is produced for Y
ANKEE
by
Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers of
Boston. skinnerinc.com
P
48 YankeeMagazine.com
Images are stenciled, then painted
for an appealing effect.
July/August 2006
www.YankeeMagazine.com
Reprinted with permission from Yankee Magazine,July/August 2006