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Standing Figure of a Boy Holding a Letter

Photo credit: National Trust Images

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This wooden painted figure standing alone is a boy holding an alphabet board without the letters 'J', 'U' or 'W'. It looks as if the figure has been cut out of a provincial Spanish portrait and then mounted on an ebonised wood base. These types of pictures are not really paintings but furniture and are called dummy boards or, to quote Vita Sackville-West, 'silent companions'. They were usually found greeting guests in the entrance halls of houses, or were used as firescreens.

National Trust, Castle Drogo

near Exeter




oil on wood


H 100.5 x W 60 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

on loan from Fiona Ridgers

Work type



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Normally on display at

National Trust, Castle Drogo

Drawsteignton, near Exeter, Devon EX6 6PB England

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