An Itinerant artist’s blank handbill
Before the invention of photography, the silhouette was the best and cheapest way to have a likeness of a loved one or one’s self made. Some talent, paper and scissors and patience on the part of the sitter was all that was required. Chapman advertised the use of a machine “universally allowed by the best judges to be more correct than any ever before invented.”
This advertising handbill or small broadside was used by the itinerant silhouette artist Moses Chapman (1783-1821) when traveling through a specific area of New England seeking to ply is trade. The illustrated handbill sporting the likenesses of each a lady and gentleman, has a blank space for filling in the town or city which Chapman would be traveling through. The body of the handbill establishes the cost of various options wanted by the sitter when having the portrait performed.
I have owned several Chapman silhouettes over the years, and have been full standing works, military men with great detail used showing uniforms and accoutrements, etc.
The measurements of this handbill is 8×7 on laid paper. The center vertical fold has been repaired some time ago using brown paper and glue. The roughness of the right and lower edges is due to the way the handbill was cut; 4 imprints to one sheet, this being the lower right corner of the master sheet. The small holing is due to the poor quality paper used in the printing, not from wear or damage.
I have not found great evidence to pinpoint Chapman to a specific place other than to note that several observed works seem to center around the North Shore Massachusetts area.
A great piece of American art history and 100 percent real!
USPS Priority Envelope $8.00